A yellow-browed warbler spotted in Greater Victoria on Friday, Oct. 19, 2019 is drawing hundreds of birders from across the continent to the Panama Flats. (Photo by Geoffrey Newell)

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

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

A yellow-browed warbler was spotted Friday 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 wee bird is commonly found in eastern Siberia, Mongolia and China, and winters in Thailand or India. It can range as far as Iceland, but had never been spotted on the mainland of North America until now.

The American Birding Association gives it a rarity rating of 4/5.

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

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

It’s hard to know how the bird ended up so far from its typical habitat, she says, but 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

She 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 on Friday night and caught her sighting on Saturday morning.

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



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert and Port Hardy brace for heavy winds

Gusts ready to hit the communities at 120 km/h as Wednesday evening falls

Coastal GasLink stresses pipeline ‘on a schedule’ as B.C. appoints liaison for Wet’suwet’en

670-kilometre pipeline is schedule to be completed by end of 2023

Anticipated adverse weather leads to ferry rescheduling, Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii

Sailing for the Northern Expedition, Skidegate has been revised by BC Ferries

It’s a sign for Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii signs will be bi-lingual to respect language

Feds preparing plane to fly Canadians out of Wuhan, once China gives OK

160 Canadians have asked for help to leave province at centre of coronavirus outbreak

60% of Canadian workers would take a pay cut for better mental health support: survey

Survey found 77% of workers would leave for better wellness initiatives

Runaway rail car reported on same B.C. train line as fatal 2019 derailment

CP Rail confirmed the incident happened on Jan. 14.

Southern resident orca L41 considered missing and feared dead

The orca was last spotted in August 2019 when photographed in western Strait of Juan de Fuca

‘I am so sorry’: Stolen Baby Bear statue reunited with Mama, Papa Bear in B.C. town

Culprit left it near the Henry Road roundabout in Chemainus with a note attached

‘Critically low’ caribou population prompts wolf cull in the Chilcotin

Itcha-Ilgachuz herd numbers down to 385, from 2,800 in 2003

Off-duty B.C. Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

RCMP to review fatal B.C. train derailment investigation after evidence points to ‘cover up’

The derailment, which occurred on Feb. 4, 2019, killed three men from Calgary

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Most Read