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Rare Bird Sighting

Local photographer, birder snaps historic photo of rarely seen Sandwich Tern

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October 13, 2010
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Rick Remington knew something was special about the bird with the yellow-tipped beak that he spotted on Northwestern University’s Evanston beachfront in early September.

An avid bird watcher, Remington, following along the shoreline, snapped about 300 pictures of the bird. A few hours and Google searches later, he confirmed his suspicions: the yellow-tipped beak belonged to the Sandwich Tern, a seabird native to the southern Atlantic coast rarely seen in the Midwest.

Remington was only the second person in Illinois history to spot the Sandwich Tern on state soil and the first to take its picture, according to Douglas Stotz, conservation ecologist/ornithologist at the Field Museum of Natural History.

“I’m pretty familiar with the terns who inhibit this area, and I knew I’d never seen that one before,” explained Remington, a Northwestern staff member who works in the James L. Allen Center. “Bird watching is my passion so a rare sighting is incredibly exciting for me.”

While Remington is not sure why the tern traveled north, he said he’s not surprised it chose to land on Northwestern’s campus.

“So many spectacular birds are attracted to our beautiful beaches, dunes and abundant trees,” he said.  “The variety of birds I’ve seen is nothing short of stunning."

Watch the slideshow to see the famous Sandwich Tern and more feathered friends spotted by Remington on campus.