Stay tuned for more Thursday blog posts featuring throwback articles from The Osprey journal!
Bird Group News – Rare Birds
by: Howard Clase, Founding Editor of The Osprey
“Pride of place in this month’s report must go to the Reeve which was seen by many people at Long Pond in St. John’s in the period 28th April – 1st May. The Ruff (female: Reeve) is one of the spectacular birds of Northern European meadows. It is a medium sized shore bird which in spring puts on a gorgeous multicoloured plumage in the form of a “ruff” and a pair of ear tufts. Each male is different, the colours varying from white through orange, brown and grey to black, and the Ruff may be plain or banded in more than one colour. The males gather together in groups to spend their time displaying their finery to one another and engaging in mock battles, while the drab Reeves carry on the business of bringing up the families. Our Reeve was seen in the company of Greater Yellowlegs, and was distinguished by her smaller size and relatively shorter legs and bill as well as her much browner colouration. In flight the white base of the tail was seen to be into two by a central narrow dark line — a feature unique to this species and the best field mark. Ruffs and Reeves are rare but regular winter visitors to the Eastern coast of North America, so that it is not too surprising to find one in Newfoundland. This is the first time, however, that one has been reported here.
Also in this category are one of our wintering Dickcissels which was last seen on April 14th (DB) and two Purple Martins which sometimes overshoot on spring migration and reach Newfoundland (Salmonier line INT May 4th).”
As the article from 1970 stated, the ruff (Calidris pugnax) is not considered a rare bird on account of its regular, but unusual, visits to Newfoundland and Labrador, but is still a wonderful surprise for any birder. This particular reeve was found by the Editor, Howard Clase, who recognized the bird from his time abroad in northern Finland, where they breed. To read more about this bird, and see some images of its striking plumage, check out the NL records on eBird.
To read the original or similar articles from The Osprey, visit the MUN digital archives.