PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 11, 2019 UPDATED FEBRUARY 11, 2019
“I don’t know what I got myself into.”
Denise Smith is laughing lightly, though most people would hardly find funny what has happened to her over the past couple of weeks.
The grandmother and 30-year daycare provider loves birds. She and husband James live in a tidy bungalow that backs onto wooded parkland in Ottawa’s Pinecrest Creek area, and for years they have kept feeders in the backyard.
Their house has no curtains on the rear windows and she says there is nothing she likes better than “sitting in my La-Z-Boy looking out on nature.”
She just had no idea that one day there would be 100 people staring back at her.
Visitors of the human species were not what those feeders were intended to attract.
Here’s what happened: A small songbird Ms. Smith could not recognize landed on one of the feeders in late January. It was very tiny, with white wing bars and a hint of blue. She took a photograph and sent it off to a friend seeking identification.
The bird, it turned out, was a rare lazuli bunting, a male whose plumage will turn bright blue come spring. It should be wintering in Mexico. It has been spotted in this part of the world only 11 times – and never in the dead of winter.
The bunting’s discovery marked the highlight of months of strange sightings in the National Capital Region.