Photo by Steve Duffield/The Telegraph

Whither the wayward bird? Birders often delight in chasing rarities that suddenly appear hundreds or thousands of miles from where they should be. But sometimes, the bird would have been better off staying home.

Take the case of the White-throated Needletail which recently popped up on the Isle of Harris in Scotland. After the initial report, British birders scurried to catch a glimpse of the Needletail, a swift which has occasionally shown up in the U.K. but seldom ventures out of the Eastern hemisphere. Well, the early bird(ers) on Harris were the ones lucky enough to get the tick, because a mere two days after it was reported, the Needletail flew into a wind turbine and perished. Dozens of birders were on hand and the horror happened before their very eyes. “We just watched the whole thing with dismay,” onlooker David Campbell said. (Bittersweet hat tip to Redgannet for pointing us to this story.)

While the stray Needletail met a tragic demise, another long-distance traveler has escaped its brush with death. A racing pigeon was found, famished and exhausted, on an air force base in Vancouver, Canada. The rescuers checked the band around the bird’s leg to track down its owner … and noticed his name was written in Japanese. Yup, this one-year-old pigeon, who was released for a race near Sapporo, Japan, flew clear across the Pacific! Lucky for him, a Canadian racing club is giving him a new home, and may even put him out to stud, a reward this pigeon has no doubt earned.

ht_japanese_racing_pigeon_ll_130625_wmainPhoto from ABC News

Written by Meredith Mann
The lowly Red-winged Blackbirds in suburban New York triggered Meredith Mann's interest in birds. Five years later, she's explored some of the the USA's coolest hotspots, from Plum Island in Massachusetts to the Magic Hedge in Chicago to the deserts of Fallon, Nevada. She recently migrated from the Windy City (where she proudly served as a Chicago Bird Collision Monitor, rescuing migrants from skyscrapers and sidewalks) to Philadelphia, where she plans to find new editing and writing gigs; keep up her cool-finds chronicle, Blog5B; and discover which cheesesteak really is the best. And she will accept any and all invitations to bird Cape May, NJ.