A bird that’s very rarely seen in Minnesota has been hanging out around a home north of Detroit Lakes, and birders are flocking in from all over to see it.
A brambling (of the finch family Fringillidae, formal name Fringilla montifringilla) has been making daily appearances at the Shroyer family home just east of Richwood since Friday, Jan. 25. Beau Shroyer, a Detroit Lakes realtor, birder, and owner of the home, said this is only the 8th brambling ever recorded in Minnesota, and the fourth one to stick around for any longer than a day.
Bramblings are not rare in the world, but they’re uncommon in North America, and hardly ever make it to the Midwest.
“They’re not native to North America,” Shroyer explained. “Its most likely route of getting here was across the Bering Sea into Alaska from Siberia, because its only other avenue would be to cross the Atlantic Ocean, which is of course highly unlikely.”
Shroyer was the first person to spot the bird, which made a brief stop at the feeder outside his dining room window on Jan. 1. Though he only saw it for about 30 seconds that day, and had never seen one before, he knew right away it was something special.
He reported the sighting to the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union, but didn’t initially have a photo to back up his claim. After the bird returned on Jan. 25, he was able to provide several photos as evidence, and just minutes after that, news of the brambling went out on a rare bird alert watched by avid birders.
“And that’s what started the whole uproar here,” Shroyer said.
As many as 100 birders have since visited the Shroyer home to see the brambling, and they’ve taken hundreds of photos. One visitor, a man from Australia taking part in the famous worldwide Big Year birding challenge, flew here all the way from the Aleutian Islands to snap a photo of the bird. Others have come from parts of Canada and around North Dakota and Minnesota.
Shroyer said the brambling has been seen right through their windows every day since Jan. 25. For the past two days, it’s been making appearances on-and-off throughout the days, from sun up ‘til sun down.
Birders are welcome to stop by and try to get a peek; the Shroyers just ask that they park in the driveway and not the road, which isn’t safe.
The Shroyer home is located at 27950 County Highway 34 in Callaway Township, just east of Richwood, Minn. Beau Shroyer may be reached on his cell phone, at 701-205-7428.