An exhausted tropical bird that landed unexpectedly in eastern Canada recently has wildlife experts amazed and climatologists predicting more will show up in the north in the coming decades.

The red-billed tropicbird, or phaethon aethereus, was discovered in a driveway in Three Fathom Harbour in eastern Nova Scotia province last week, said Hope Swinimer, director of the Hope for Wildlife Society.

A local man had found the black-and-white striped sea bird with long tail feathers in his driveway. He bathed it, fed it, and brought it to the wildlife refuge, which briefly cared for the bird.

"It was probably swept up in a storm and knocked off course, or carried from its (native) shores of Central and South America to Canada," Swinimer said.

"In the last six or seven years, we've had more and more strange birds wash up on our shores, including a white pelican and a brown pelican, and 75 cuckoo birds last year, usually after big storms," she told AFP.

"It could be due to a change in weather patterns. It certainly appears that it is happening more and more now."

Indeed, bird-watchers throughout eastern Canada have reported an increase in rare bird sightings over the past decade and climatologists say it is linked to an increase in hurricanes and tropical storms reaching the north Atlantic.

"For the past 12 years, it has been a very active tropical storm period in the north Atlantic," said David Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada.

"For 20 years prior to that, it was considered very quiet, very inactive. But now we're in a period of active hurricane seasons for probably the next 20-25 years."

And these strong winds are picking up tropical birds from their nests in Africa, as well as Central and South America, and dumping them in Canada, he said.

"I've attended birder meetings where people were ooh-ing and ah-ing about the sighting of birds that can only be found in books (in Canada)," Phillips said.

"They're probably the only group of people who look forward to the hurricane season nowadays," he quipped. "They eagerly await the opportunity to see a rare bird show up in their back yard or balcony."

Since 1996, 11 hurricane seasons have been active and two have been quiet.

"Not every year is going to be a humdinger, and of course, two years ago was the grand-daddy of them all with Hurricane Katrina and 28 tropical storms in the north Atlantic," Phillips said.

"Of course, they don't all reach Canadian soil."

The tropical storms usually begin off the coast of Africa, sweep over to the Gulf of Mexico or southern Caribbean and head north with the jet stream, but usually fizzle out by the time they arrive in the north Atlantic.

Typically, only nine or 10 tropical storms reach the north Atlantic. Of these, six might become hurricanes. There were 12 tropical storms last year.

The average number of storms striking Canada's eastern seaboard, meanwhile, has doubled to three or four in recent years.

As well, the intensity of storms on the east coast of Canada and the United States has skyrocketed with a doubling of the number of major hurricanes (categories three, four and five) during the period.

Scientists continue to debate the basis for the phenomena, with some pointing to global warming while others insist the storms are cyclical.

"The general feeling is that when you warm up the world and ocean temperatures rise, more of these storms are going to turn into hurricanes and stay together longer, traveling further north," Phillips said.

"The jury is still out (on the cause)," he said. "But, we know we're in the middle of an active period that could last another two decades."

The Hope for Wildlife Society released the white pelican, hoping it would find its own way home, and flew its other feathered guests to a Florida rehabilitation center aboard commercial jets, for eventual release.

The red-billed tropicbird and half of the cuckoos, however, like many of the tropical birds landing in Canada, did not survive, Swinimer said.