Europeans Are Losing Their Minds Over This Boring Bird - Atlas Obscura
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Europeans Are Losing Their Minds Over This Boring Bird

Fame is contextual.

If you’re reading this website, you’ve probably been tempted to pull an overseas switcheroo: skip out on your life, move abroad, and reinvent yourself. As an expat, you’d be unique, even interesting. You’d learn about a different culture, and all your old stories would seem new again. Maybe you’d even get famous.

This is all currently happening to someone else: a female red-winged blackbird who, due to some strong migratory winds, ended up in North Ronaldsay, an island off the coast of Scotland, last week. After an employee of the local Bird Observatory spotted the feathery fugitive—who is being touted as the first red-winged blackbird ever spotted in the UK—she has gained instant, decidedly contextual fame.

Red-winged blackbirds are a dime a dozen in North America. This one is not particularly exciting—as a female, she doesn’t even have the species’ trademark red shoulders, and according to the BBC, she has spent her time in Scotland “flying between a bed of irises and some gas canisters.”

But none of this has dampened the ardor of birdwatchers. Over the past couple of weeks, dozens of them have chartered planes to get to the island, which normally houses about 45 people. These fans are single-minded: “They take the flight out here, we pick them up, we show them where the bird is, they see the bird and then they pretty much get on the flight back and leave,” Larissa Simulik, an assistant warden at the observatory, told the CBC.

Such is the price of fame. Maybe we’d better all stay home.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.