Bullock's oriole in backyard
© Sue King-Gosse
Bird enthusiasts from across Nova Scotia have come to the Gosse's backyard to catch a glimpse of the visitor.
An avid birder in Cape Breton is playing host to an unusual visitor this winter. It hails from a much warmer climate — but shows no signs of wanting to leave its new home.

The Bullock's oriole arrived in Sue King-Gosse's backyard in Whitney Pier in mid-December, following a winter storm with strong westerly winds.

At first, King-Gosse thought it was a Baltimore oriole, a bird rare enough in Cape Breton.

But after she posted some photographs on social media, several fellow birders weighed in with their opinion that it is a Bullock's oriole.

The bird's normal habitat is in the western United States, and it usually winters even farther south, in Mexico and Central America.

Bullock's Oriole Range Map

Bullock's Oriole range map
King-Gosse is thrilled to play host to such an exotic visitor.

"It's very exciting to have something like that, a rare bird," says King-Gosse. "I mean, it's not just a lifer, it's rare, it shouldn't be here, so we didn't even have to travel to see it."

Bird enthusiasts from across Nova Scotia have come to the Gosse's backyard to catch a glimpse of the visitor.

King-Gosse's husband is the former MLA for Whitney Pier, Gordie Gosse. He jokes he's accustomed to rare birds.

"I've seen lots of rare birds in Whitney Pier — and even more rare birds in the legislature," quipped Gosse.

The bird thrives on globe grapes and Smucker's grape jelly. The challenge, says King-Gosse, is making sure the Bullock's oriole gets its share.

"We come out and wave our arms and drive off the starlings," says King-Gosse, pointing to the various bird feeders in her backyard.

"See, they'll take his food — I'll go down and drive them off and then he'll usually come in."

Last month, a Bullock's oriole attracted lots of attention when it was found in Pakenham near Ottawa.

It suffered frostbite and was taken to a wild bird centre to recover.

King-Gosse isn't sure how this oriole will weather the next few months in Cape Breton.

"I don't know if he'll be here all winter — if he'll make it — I have no idea," she says. "But now I feel like, 'Oh gee, I've got to keep this guy alive.'"

So far, her approach is working.

The Bullock's oriole has been in her yard for 32 days — and counting.