The bird that West Hartford resident Jeff Feldmann saw on Nov. 30 at the ferry launch in Hadlyme on the Connecticut River didn’t walk like a duck or quack like a duck.
Actually, the bird looked more like an Eastern Kingbird, which is fairly common for the area.
“It was nice to see the bird, but I have a lot of photographs of that bird,” said Feldmann, a retiree who frequently goes birdwatching in the state. “But then I saw some people looking in the same direction and I stopped and asked them if they were looking at the bird. They said they were looking at something other than an Eastern Kingbird.”
Feldmann stopped and got out his binoculars and saw that the bird had a long tail, which perked his interest.
So he snapped a photo of the fowl and sent it to the Hartford Audubon Society, which confirmed that Feldmann had captured just the fourth documented sighting of a fork-tailed flycatcher in the state of Connecticut.
The fork-tailed flycatcher is a native of South America, according to Jay Kaplan, the director of the Roaring Brook Nature Center.
“It’s a pretty cool-looking bird,” Kaplan said. “It has big, long tail feathers; it’s a pretty impressive looking bird, and it isn’t normally seen in this area.”
Kaplan said that there are populations of the birds in Central America, in countries like Panama and Costa Rica, that do not migrate. But the ones located in countries like Brazil do migrate.
The bird that Feldmann photographed likely took the wrong way when he migrated from Brazil, Kaplan said.
Since word got out that a fork-tailed flycatcher has made a rare appearance in Connecticut, hundreds of people from all over New England have trekked to Hadlyme to view the bird.
“It turned out to be a nice honor,” Feldmann said. “Many people have gone down there [to view it].”
It’s also not the first time that Feldmann has captured a rare bird in a photo.
In 1997, while kayaking on the Bantam River in Lichfield, Feldmann photographed a Northern Phalarope, which was the first sighting in 60 years in the state.
Kaplan said that there is a larger message for people in Feldmann’s sightings.“People who are out and about enjoying nature can make significant scientific discoveries,” Kaplan said.