Not exactly surprising, given its normal habitat, but the Great Kiskadee that was found hanging around a farmstead near Volga, South Dakota since at least August, was found dead yesterday. The landowners first noticed one, and maybe up to three, in August. They weren’t aware of how rare a find it was, so it wasn’t until November that the birding community found out. One Great Kiskadee was once found in central Kansas. A few have been found in Oklahoma. But South Dakota? In winter?
The bird hung on into the new year, which is by itself a minor miracle for a bird of the tropics. We’ve had a very snowy winter so far, but the Kiskadee survived thanks to the heroic efforts of the landowners who fed it mealworms, minnows, catfood, suet, and anything else it would eat. In the end though…it’s damned hard to expect a tropical bird to survive a South Dakota winter. It hasn’t been THAT cold, but no matter whether the bird had food to eat, there are basic physiological tolerances that were no doubt exceeded.
Bummer…I do feel bad for the family who tried to keep it alive. They were very proud of “their” bird and did a nice job keeping it alive as long as they did. People from all across the region got the chance to see this incredibly rare tropical visitor, right in the heart of a northern Plains winter.