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Minnesota Records First Sighting Of Roseate Spoonbill

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) --  It was late Sunday morning when phones began ringing. Soon, Alex Sundvall's social media pages began lighting up.

"I was in shock really. I never actually thought that day would come," Alex said.

He grabbed his gear and headed out. Not long afterwards, he was among those capturing images of a bird never seen this far north. It is known as a Roseate Spoonbill. A shorebird commonly seen along the Gulf coast states.

There it was in the distance of the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge backwaters. Alex photographed the bird sleeping, bathing and at times feeding on minnows and aquatic invertebrates.

"That color pink is unlike anything you see and the beak is kind of dopey almost. It's like it stubbed its face into something," Sundvall said.

Soon, viewing platforms were crowded with birders. They were there to help document history in the making, recording Minnesota's 444th known bird species.

"This bird probably came from Louisiana and is working its way north," said Sharon Stiteler, a naturalist with the National Park Service.

Stiteler is also a renown birder who is popular on social media under the name "Birdchick." She says Iowa had a similar siting two weeks ago.

"This is how new populations get established as the bird goes north and finds good food and has thermal regulation to take cooler temperatures, then maybe a new population sprouts up," Stiteler said.

Native to the Gulf Coast, there's no telling how it got here or when it will return. But birders like Alex can add another species to their list - one few of them ever expected.

"They've been in Iowa, Illinois and Ohio, but I never thought it would happen in my state," Sundvall said.

Call it the beauty of a birder's surprise.

Click here for updates on Roseate Spoonbill sightings.

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