What was even more exciting was that the finder had photographed the bird! I was one of about 30+ birders who showed up in a quiet Brantford neighbourhood the next morning hoping to find this mega. However, after spending some time there and after Andrew Keaveney talked to the finders and we all did some investigation work, we began to become suspicious. You can read about it on Andrew's Ontbirds post here.
Basically, what the consensus was was that the lady saw a bird in front of her house. She looked online and found a photo of what she thought it was and posted the photo on her blog claiming it to be taken by her. Unfortunately for her, this little lie aimed at her friends and readers of her blog (which, by the way, requires a password to read now) quickly spun out of control. Myself and several other birders emailed her to ask for detailed directions and she gladly gave them to us not wanting to admit she hadn't even taken the picture. That's where the story ended.
Hold on a sec...I'll get to the conclusion.
So today, I noticed a post on the Ontario Birds Facebook group. Kellie Superina posted a note saying that when you do a google image search for birds now the results also give you options for similar species and in some cases different age/sex classes:
|The new google image search results shows similar species
So that set me on a search to see if I could find a picture of the Brown-headed Nuthatch to test with this fancy search tool. Well, I found the photo, and what do you know? The photo first appeared in March, 2007 (two and a half years earlier than the report) on the KennySmith.org blog! Finally, we can close that mystery forever! Here's the original photo.
Anyways, that search tool definitely could be handy to screen out bogus reports of rare birds in the future.
And of course, the lesson to be learned here is that no matter how small of a lie you start with, you could quickly find your house surrounded by angry birders!