Stakeout vagrant birds beware...

There are few things that birders love more than a rare vagrant bird that turns up at someone's backyard feeder. A rare hummingbird at the backyard feeder of a birder instantly is posted on local birding sites and a steady stream of birders usually follows. Wisconsin recently had a doozy of a vagrant when a Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii) showed up at a backyard in Beloit. The northern limits of the Green-breasted Mango's range is in Mexico and there are only a handful of sightings in the US. After the bird failed to leave in the face of the approaching Wisconsin winter the Humane Society of Wisconsin made a controversial decision and took the bird into it's Milwaukee facility and later transfered the bird to the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. Should vagrant birds be taken into captivity? After all evolution proceeds by those rare individuals in a population who can move into new environments. With global warming more tropical species will likely show up in temperate regions where they were previously never, or seldom, recorded. Is it up to local zoos and humane societies to take in these vagrants? I'm not sure they should. I guess the lesson is next time you hear about that great, state-record bird hanging out in someone's yard get there quick before the local humane society does!

see more on this story at NPR and the Chicago Tribune.