This morning I saw a post on the Jersey bird List from Sam Galick (Thanks Sam!) about a Common Chaffinch in western New Jersey. (Sam’s post @ http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/NJBD.html#1325609373) The Common Chaffinch is a resident across Europe and summers in parts of Asia and there are very few North American records so it being in NJ is obviously a super rare sighting to say the least. Of course whenever a super rare vagrant like this shows up provenience is a question and we will see how the NJ Committee handles this bird but I personal feel it is a wild bird (or at least has been for some time leading up to my sighting today). The bird has no feather wear or bandings of any sort and its actions during the 3 trips into the feeder that I saw it (over about a half hour out in the cold!) were of a wild bird. I have seen “escapee” Budgerigars in Florida (looking for a population of wild ones that apparently still exists although I never saw any I was comfortable saying were wild) and seen how they come into a feeder and act around other birds. And this bird was very aware, active and actually staged 2 of the 3 times in a tree prior to coming into the feeder, once all by itself scanning its eventual feeding spot prior to flying in. Of course, it could have quickly cleaned this from other birds and you can never be sure of a bird like this but my general inclination was that this indeed is a wild bird or has been one for a while. (I have also seen a Black-throated Magpie-Jay in Texas that had also acclimated to the “wild” actions of a bird when it was most probably a caged bird at some point so all possibilities must be considered)
Saying all that, the bird was a beautiful bird to see and a wonderful one to share with other NJ Birders! Its always fun to see an unexpected species in your area and a big thanks to the Rehman family for allowing us to view this wonderful bird.
We shall see what other birder’s takes are on this bird over the next days and weeks (hopefully it sticks around!) but I for one couldn’t have been happier to experience the exhilaration of the experience.