SCARBOROUGH —  Bird watchers armed with telescopes and cameras are flocking to the Scarborough Marsh to see a rare Little Egret.

It is officially the first of its breed ever spotted in Maine, and one of a small number seen in North America, said Doug Hitchcox, a naturalist with the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center. Hitchcox was the first to identify the bird while leading a weekly bird-watching walk early Wednesday morning.

“I watched the bird bird for a solid hour before I felt comfortable enough to make phone calls,” Hitchcox said. “It has got these two long plumes coming off the back of its head. That’s really what distinguishes it from a Snowy Egret.”

Little Egrets are common in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. They are only seen in North America if they get really lost.

“It’s probably a young bird, probably hatched last year, and for some reason it went way off course,” said Linda Woodard, director of the Scarborough Marsh Center. It may have traveled from Australia to South America before flying north to Maine, she said.

“It could just hang out with snowy’s all summer or it might leave in a couple of weeks and migrate back down south,” said Woodard.

Birders who heard about the sighting through websites and list-serves have been rushing to Scarborough to see the bird and add it to their life lists.

One woman left her desk in the middle of the workday Wednesday and drove from Massachusetts. A  man who was traveling in California hopped an early flight home and saw the bird this morning.

“People are coming from all over to see this bird,” Woodard said. “I have someone coming from New Jersey tomorrow.”

To check on the bird’s whereabouts, call the nature center at 883-5100 or go to: http://www.mainebirding.net/