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Castaway no more: Off-course hummingbird gets lift out of Minnesota

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An anonymous donor supplied the use of a private jet to airlift a rufous hummingbird out of Minnesota and back onto its migratory path, the Star Tribune reports.

The bird the newspaper calls "Wrong-way Rufous" is a species that's seldom spotted in Minnesota, particularly in November.

A St. Paul birder who recognized the rufous at her feeder – and realized that it was perilously off course – captured the hummingbird and turned it over to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.

The birds are native to the Pacific Northwest and normally head toward Mexico in the fall. Experts say this one was likely blown off its migratory path by the same winds that brought Minnesota its first snowstorm of the season.

Temperatures below freezing make hummingbird food scarce in Minnesota this time of year. Phil Jenni, the executive director of the wildlife center in Roseville, tells the Star Tribune the bird was flown to Texas, adding: “We are delighted that the rufous hummingbird is free in the wild and able to decide when and where he goes on life’s journey.”

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center said in a Nov. 12 Facebook post about the rufous that a private pilot was needed to fly the bird to a licensed rehab center in the southwest for release.

Rufous' story spread around the world and word of Sunday's airlift was picked up by news outlets including the British newspaper, the Guardian.

The type of hummingbird most commonly seen in Minnesota is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which normally migrates out of the state by the end of September.

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