Goose Takes A Wrong Turn, Winds Up Bird Celebrity In Oregon

Dec 26, 2014

A bird rarely seen in North America has turned a small bay on the Oregon Coast into a major destination for bird watchers this winter.

Sarah Swanson and her husband Max Smith run a blog in Portland called the Must-See Bird Blog. They tried to explain what it's like to spot a tundra bean-goose at Nestucca Bay in Oregon.

“It's just so exciting, I'm trying to compare it something for a non-birder,” Swanson said.

“Maybe it's like running into a celebrity at the mall, someone you've always idolized,” Smith suggested.

Yes, in the celebrity news of bird watching this has been a top story. It's the first-ever confirmed sighting of a tundra bean-goose in the lower 48. Usually these brown and gray geese spend their winters in Asia and Europe.

In birding parlance, seeing one here is a “mega-rarity.”

The manager of the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex said it appears the bird just took a wrong turn. Since November, this directionally challenged goose has drawn more than 1,000 birders from as far away as Massachusetts.

“It’s the rarest bird I’ve ever seen in my life,” Swanson said.

She said it’s strange enough when they turn up in Alaska. “For one to make it all the way down to Oregon is needle-in-a-haystack kind of rare. And then for this one to be so cooperative and hang out in a place with public access and stay there for over a month is just mind-boggling.”

The tundra bean-goose has been living in a field at Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge south of Pacific City, Oregon, since early November. It may have arrived with a flock of cackling geese.

The tundra bean-goose has a distinctive orange spot on its bill.