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Lazuli Bunting seen in Lakefield

submitted photo The Lazuli Bunting is shown in Don Vrchota's backyard in Lakefield.

LAKEFIELD -- Don Vrchota is always watching for birds. He knows that winter isn't the best season. Instead, it's spring and fall.

On a fine spring morning Sunday, his trained eyes spotted a blue-headed songbird in his backyard. The Lazuli Bunting is common in the West but not often seen around here.

"I had a feeling about what it was, but I had to get my books to be sure," said Vrchota, an avid bird watcher who started about five years ago. "It must have been just passing through."

He was quick enough to grab his camera that day. The Bunting visited twice on Sunday and once Monday, but Vrchota said that it has yet to return.

He submitted images to the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union (MOU) for verification. According to the MOU, the Bunting he saw was the first spotted in Jackson County since 1930. In the last century, only 47 of its species were sighted in Minnesota.

"It might be a hybrid, so I have to send more pictures for them to identify," Vrchota added.

Vrchota is the president of the Jackson County Bird Club, an association that fell by the wayside but was revived five years ago.

"I'm an amateur, but once it sneaks up, you're hooked," he said about his interest in bird watching. "Once you do it more, you can start to recognize birds by their voices."

The Lazuli Bunting's call is known as a "dry chirp." The birds winter in western Mexico before heading back to brushy areas in the America West.

Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony may be reached at 376-7321.