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

Victoria adoption centre closes despite effort to save it; B.C. left with two agencies

Choices Adoption and Pregnancy Counselling in Victoria was set to close in April

Saanich man discovers hidden corners of city while cycling every street in Victoria

Cyclist maps progress while taking on 2019 goal to cover every street with road sign

Proposed four-storey Victoria parkade offers zero spots for public use

A proposed parkade at 730-780 Summit Ave. will soon be up for discussion

Victoria’s cocktail king releases book on best bartenders in Canada

Four bartenders from Kelowna and one from Penticton are recognzied in Great Northern Coocktails

Saanich Peninsula parents accuse district of leveraging deadline

Support workers receive show of solidarity from parents during rally outside school district office

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to meet with Trudeau today to discuss throne speech

Top ask will be for Liberal support for the immediate creation of a national universal pharmacare program

B.C. set to announce changes around youth vaping, regulations

Move will involved education, tightening access, working with partners and pressuring the federal government

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

Most Read