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Here's how a rare hummingbird ended up in a backyard in Saskatoon


While most birds fly south for the winter, one hummingbird decided to spend his winter in Saskatoon.

Costa’s hummingbirds are typically found in the desert. But in October, a young male was found in a Saskatoon backyard and taken to Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation.

“We went and got a feather from the bird, and we used stable isotope techniques to find out where it came from,” Environment Canada Chemist Geoff Koehler told CTV News.

Using a feather analysis, Koehler discovered the bird was hatched near Yosemite National Park.

So how did the Costa’s hummingbird end up in Saskatoon? He may just be bad with directions, according to Koehler.

“If you look at the distance between the northern part of the breeding range where it came from and Saskatoon, that’s about the same distance that it would have had to fly south. So it flew the same distance, just the completely wrong direction,” Koehler said.

With the new information about the bird’s origin, the wildlife rehab staff named the bird, Yosemite Sam.

Jan Shadick, the executive director of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, said Yosemite Sam is getting through his first Saskatchewan winter eating fruit flies and a special protein drink.

“He has been doing fantastically with us. He has this very expensive special diet,” Shadick said, noting that he’s been growing new purple neck feathers.


Shadick wants to release Yosemite Sam back in California. But now that the bird has entered Canadian borders, an export permit is required to get him back into the United States.

If the permit request gets denied, Shadick plans to release Yosemite Sam from British Columbia — where the same species have been spotted. But crossing provincial borders with the bird also requires an export permit.

“Otherwise, if we don’t get any of that, then he’s going to have to do his best from being released in the backyard,” Shadick said.

“I do feel like releasing him in Saskatoon would not be the best thing for him.”

As Yosemite Sam waits for the paperwork, to determine his fate, he’s enjoying his first Saskatoon winter in his cage designed to feel like California

“He has full-spectrum lighting, a plant and a waterfall in there,” Shadick said. Top Stories

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