The Crested Caracara reported first on Facebook with an Ontario photo caused lots of confusion as to whether it was a hoax or for real. At first I, like everyone else, assumed it was for real and Jean and I drove the Mascarene and Back Bay roads the afternoon of June 21st (two days after the sighting) without success. Others did as well around that time.
Then came the news that the photo was not taken in NB. This caused everyone to assume it was someone’s idea of a prank. At that point no one seemed to know who the actual purported observer was as the report on Facebook was apparently second-hand. So I abandoned any further attention to it.
Then Wednesday morning while we were on the road I received an email from a reporter at CBC Radio in Saint John with a video and a series of photographs which clearly showed a Crested Caracara that had been taken by Tanya Corbett on her property on Mascarene Road on June 19th. These images did not look like the picture that appeared on Facebook and CBC told me they had spoken with Ms. Corbett and the sighting was for real. Shortly afterward CBC phoned me in the car and we recorded a short conversation about the ID of the bird and its rarity in Canada. That formed the basis of a news item that aired on CBC Radio Wednesday and Thursday.
We were on the road all day Wednesday and when we got home that evening I had some other commitments to attend to. Same thing yesterday but early last evening I contacted Tanya Corbett by phone and had quite a long discussion.
Tanya and her mother were together at Tanya’s house the morning of June 19th. Tanya first noticed the caracara foraging on their open property around 8 AM. Eventually she realized it was a bird she had never seen before. It remained all morning, busily picking up various small food items from the damp ground. The day was foggy and wet; perhaps it was getting worms, as well as other invertebrates or insects. The caracara flew off for about 15 minutes at one point but returned and resumed foraging. At that point Tanya decided to get some video and still photographs of the bird. It finally flew off around 1 PM with several local crows in hot pursuit. She did not see it again.
Just how the Ontario video got into the scene is unclear. However it is clear that a Crested Caracara spent part of June 19th at a property on Mascarene Road and that Tanya Corbett did not post the photo of the Ontario bird on Facebook.
Now a report and photo of a Crested Caracara feeding on a road-killed porcupine at Lake Utopia on June 26th has surfaced on Facebook, circulated by Alana Carson. Lake Utopia is only about 10 kilometers from Mascarene as the caracara flies, so it was very likely the same bird. I have no other details but it appears this bird may still be scavenging in that general area.
It’s an excellent time to be looking for it. Any fresh road kill, especially one cut open by traffic or by other scavengers should be carefully watched. Caracaras are true scavengers and strong fliers, operating in the south in much the same way our Common Ravens do here, patrolling roads looking for carcasses. They will also walk about in open areas foraging like crows for insects, worms, amphibians, small reptiles and possible small rodents. They are not forest birds, they are birds of open country and can be quite conspicuous.
Let’s hope this bird can be relocated.
Rebecca do you have more specific directions to where that porcupine was located? It would be helpful to those who would like to see this bird. Thanks.
It's not an area I'm terribly familiar with, but it was on the 785. I had no phone reception and my gps wasn't working. If you hit the Red Rock road you've gone too far. I pulled over down the road a bit and waited a couple of hours for the bird to return, but no luck this time.
Sounds like the beginning of a Suspense Movie.....
cell phone doesn't work, gps doesn't work , down some deserted road looking for a bird that eats carrion....