Birders gather to watch a rare redwing, also known as a European thrush, at Capisic Pond Park in Portland on Saturday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

A rare bird from Europe was spotted in Portland’s Capisic Pond Park this past week, drawing a small crowd of birdwatchers from several northeastern states on Saturday.

First discovered Friday in the park – situated between Capisic Street and Brighton Avenue – the redwing, also known as a European thrush, appears to have followed an unusual weather pattern that allowed it to loft over the North Atlantic to America, according to Doug Hitchcox, a staff naturalist at Maine Audubon.

A rare redwing, also known as a European thrush, perched in a tree at Capisic Pond Park in Portland on Saturday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“It’s really been putting on quite a show,” Hitchcox said Saturday morning, standing near a crowd of birdwatchers gazing as the bird flew to and fro and fed from a bush.

Shutters clicked in the background as the crowd recorded the rare moment. It’s only the fifth or sixth time a redwing has been seen in the eastern United States, and the second time in Maine, Hitchcox said.

The rarity of the event drew people from across the Eastern Seaboard. Hitchcox said he saw license plates from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York: “You name the Northeast states, they were here at sunrise.”

Having traveled so far from home, the bird’s fate is uncertain. A “vagrant,” or an animal that has wandered far from its natural range, is ill-adapted for survival.

“The harsh reality is probably that (since) most vagrants are in a new place, there are new predators; lacking familiarity is not a good way to succeed,” Hitchcox said. “There’s always the chance, the hope that a bird would redirect and get back on course.”

In these situations, Hitchcox sometimes gets questions about whether people should intervene to relocate the bird. That’s not standard practice, he said: it traveled there naturally, and it’s not our place to interfere.

A popular park for ice skating and walking, Capisic Pond has also drawn birders to see other rare species in recent weeks, including two dickcissels and a black-headed grosbeak.

Birders hoping to catch a glimpse of the redwing should keep in mind social distancing and the already busy state of the park, Hitchcox said.

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