A hooded oriole

A hooded oriole

Oriole makes its winter home in Port McNeill

Unusual sighting in Port McNeill draws interest from twitchers.

PORT McNEILL—The Marine Detective is apparently branching out. Perhaps we can call her the Avian Sleuth.

Jackie Hildering of Port McNeill, best know for her research on humpback whales and other marine biology preservation efforts, made waves with B.C.’s birding community this month when she shared a photo of a hooded oriole that appears to have taken up residence in the community for the winter.

The oriole, with distinctive bright yellow plumage on its head and breast, typically breeds along the Pacific Coast as far north as Oregon, but usually winters on the Baja Peninsula of California and Mexico.

Hildering posted her photo of the adult male bird, taken Dec. 5, on the B.C. Bird Alert weblog of Russell Cannings, causing a bit of a stir among the province’s birding community. Directions were posted and links to DriveBC webcams for those interested in making the trip to Port McNeill to view it.

And little wonder. It is just the third occasion on which the hooded oriole has attempted to winter in B.C. In 1998, on of the small birds survived through a winter in Terrace. Through a bit of research, Hildering determined another spent a winter in Prince Rupert in 2007.

The bird alert blog indicates feeders have been placed out in Port McNeill and appear to be visited regularly. The oriole was photographed again Dec. 9, leading to the belief it will be sticking around for the season.