Rare bird draws hundreds of people to Berks neighborhood

LOWER HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. - A rare sighting has drawn hundreds of visitors from across the nation to Berks County.

"For many of these people [it's] a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Tom Binder of Lower Heidelberg Township.

On Friday, Binder said his neighbors spotted an unfamiliar bird in their backyard on Indiana Avenue.

A photo of the bird was posted to a bird ID group on Facebook. Within minutes, someone recognized the bird -- a black-backed oriole. The bird is endemic to Mexico.

Mike Slater, with the Baird Ornithological Club of Reading, said it's only one of two sightings of the bird in the United States. He told 69 News the first one was seen in California about 15 years ago.

"It's from central Mexico, nests in the mountains north of Mexico City and tends to come to lower elevations and a little bit south in the winter," Slater said.

Slater said the birds' ancestors migrated long distances.

The word got out about the bird and Binder estimates about 700 visitors have signed the guest book.

"Florida, California, Ontario, Canada, everywhere in between," Binder said.

Since it was spotted, the bird has helped itself to fruit in a nearby feeder and has given bird watchers a real treat.

"Their enthusiasm is infectious," Binder said smiling.

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