A yellow-browed warbler spotted in Greater VIctoria is drawing hundreds of birders from across the continent to the Panama Flats. (Photo by Geoffrey Newell)

Birders flocking to Greater Victoria after rare warbler sighting

Tiny bird draws big audience to Panama Flats

No bigger than the palm of your hand, a tiny bird seen in Greater Victoria has caused a big commotion for birders across North America.

A yellow-browed warbler was spotted Friday at noon in the Panama Flats by two dedicated birders, Geoffrey Newell and Jeff Gaskin. The pair quickly realized they were looking at an ‘old world warbler’ from outside North America.

Melissa Hafting, who runs the blog British Columbia Rare Bird Alert, helped to verify the species.

“When I got the picture on my phone I said ‘yeah, that looks like a yellow-browed warbler.’”

READ ALSO: Rare Russian bird sighting sees birdwatchers flock to the B.C. Shuswap

The tiny bird is native to parts of Eurasia – commonly found in eastern Siberia, Mongolia and China, and wintering in parts of Southeast Asia such as Thailand or India. While the bird’s range goes as far as Iceland, it’s never been spotted on the mainland of North America – that is, until Friday.

With an American Birding Association rarity rating of 4/5, the bird’s presence has excited the North American birding community, with enthusiasts flying in from across the continent to catch a glimpse.

“It’s extremely exciting, it’s the first Canadian [sighting] recorded and of course the first in B.C.,” says Hafting. “Birders starting coming out…people are flying over from California, Washington and different parts of Canada.”

More than 80 people came out to the Panama Flats to see the warbler on Saturday, Hafting says, and at least another 60 bird enthusiasts came out Sunday. The last official sighting was on 12:20 p.m. Oct. 20.

She says it’s hard to know how the bird ended up so far from it’s typical habitat, but says many will point to climate change.

“As the temperature heats up it seems like more and more birds are coming in where they shouldn’t be.”

READ ALSO: Rare bird sightings drawing avid birders to Uplands Park in Oak Bay

But Hafting also points to reverse migration, a rare phenomenon that causes disorientation in birds and leads them in the opposite direction of typical species migration patterns. Either way, the little bird has certainly ruffled some feathers.

Hafting herself took a 9 p.m. ferry from Vancouver Friday night and got her own viewing Saturday morning.

“As long as it stays there, there will be people coming from all over North America to see it,” she says.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Camosun College shares free design of medical-grade face masks

Manufacturers across Canada, United States and UK have inquired

Group looks to create offroad trail network throughout Greater Victoria

Nature Trail Society partners with private landowners to make ‘loops’

Long wait to reopen is over for Vancouver Island gyms

Fitness centre owners taking safety measures they expect to be in place for some time

EDITORIAL: Don’t let COVID-19 fears keep you from seeking medical help

Hospitals, clinics cleaned regularly, maintain strict protocols

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

Saanich police see spike in excessive speeding compared to previous years

Nearly 100 excessive speeders caught since January 2020

Telegraph Cove Resort will open June 1 to self-contained campers only

Washrooms, showers and all other amenities will remain closed for now

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read