Out-of-season Sparrows and a Sandpiper ( 1967)
by Peter Metatawabin
We have seen birds in Attawapiskat that seemed to have arrived in the north much too soon ( mid-april ) and it is perhaps here Bird Researchers should take a look first. Some Canada geese will go north early and some hitchhiking sparrows will find themselves in dire conditions due to still winter-like conditions. But these birds, by instinct, will go back south again - in april. When Canada geese leave from the southern Ontario, it may be green grass and leaves growing but when they arrive in James Bay, it's still snow and ice in lakes, rivers. Back in 1967,it was much colder then it is now because of the global warming.
One of the amazing sighting I've seen was that of a semipalmated sandpiper in mid-april - that bird was not suppose to be in the north that soon. My brother-in-law, Alec Kataquapit and I were sitting,waiting in our hunting blind on look out for the first expected arrival of Canada geese. We saw a bird flying towards us, low over the willows at a high speed and flew past us, at least, 20 feet from us. We were astonished what we were seeing, by the time we grabbed
our shotguns, it was out of range. We would have had proof we saw a sandpiper. The bird was flying back south again at a fast speed and could have reached the southern Great Lakes overnight. Anyway, no one believed us,not even Alecs' father. Alec still resides in Attawapiskat.
I do not know if the semipalmated sandpiper is a little too big to hitch a ride on Canada geese but one Elder said it came north with a flock of Arctic Swans - they go north early. When it found itself in dire conditions, it simply flew south again by instinct. If tiny birds can hitch rides with snow geese-why not sandpipers on swans- makes sense. Both swans and sandpipers fly very high on their migration flights. I swear to bird lovers everywhere the incident with the sandpiper is true and it happened to us.