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Reporting on science, technology and innovation in Arizona and the Southwest through a collaboration from Arizona NPR member stations. This project is funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.Additional stories from the Arizona Science Desk are posted at our collaborating station, KJZZ: http://kjzz.org/science

Bird Rarely Seen in U.S. Visits Yuma

A flame-colored songbird is drawing bird watchers to Yuma. The streak-backed oriole typically resides in Mexico and Central America and seldom is seen north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

This particular oriole is hanging out in Riverside Park near downtown. Bird watchers first reported sightings around Christmas.

Nancy Meister, president of Yuma's Audubon Society, said bird watchers share these rare sightings through word-of-mouth or alerts sent out by birding websites. She added many birders will travel great lengths and spend quite a bit of money to fill in bird-watching “life lists.”

In the past year, U.S. birders have reported sparse sightings of the streak-backed oriole near the southern border of Arizona and New Mexico, according to eBird, an online database where bird watchers can submit the location, photos, and other data about birds they observe. The site is managed by Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.

The oriole’s primary habitat is the edge of tropical forests. Its range hugs the Pacific coast, and migratory movements occasionally bring the bird north into the United States between December and March.

Hear audio recordings of the streak-backed oriole, courtesy of Cornell University's Macaulay Library: http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/109153