Maryland sighting of rare bird draws thousands to national park
© Doug Janson/Wikimedia

Bird watchers are flocking to a Maryland park in the hopes of seeing a painted bunting, a rare, brightly-colored avian native to Florida and parts of the South which for some reason has found its way north.

The Washington Post reported Monday that more than 1,100 people visited the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park near Great Falls on Saturday, about twice the park's usual daily admittance, after reports surfaced that a painted bunting had been spotted in the area.

Multiple Twitter users posted their own pictures of the sharply colored bird, whose plumage was easily visible among the drab winter colors.

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One of the people who visited the park Saturday and were lucky enough to see the painted bunting was the Swiss ambassador to the U.S., Jacques Pitteloud, who told the Post that he got an "exceptional" view of it.

“To see it close to D.C., that was absolutely unrealistic,” he told the newspaper.

The Maryland Biodiversity Project reports that while painted bunting sightings in the state are rare, they occur more frequently during the winter months.