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

500 pounds of turkey served at Cool Aid community Christmas dinner

Annual dinner serves hundreds of community members

VIDEO: Annual Tuba Christmas concert draws large crowd to Market Square

Over 100 tuba and euphonium players gathered to play festive tunes

Revisit Christmas past as Point Ellice House displays Victorian-era traditions

Antique bobbles, cards, decor and more are on display

Bold and brassy quintet touches down at UVic

Internationally recognized Canadian Brass performing with Victoria Symphony on Dec. 21

Saanich church kicks off holidays with peaceful Winter Solstice service

St. Luke’s song-filled Christmas services come later

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Most Read