Rare warbler sighting thrills birders and photographers in Abbotsford
Locals believe it's the 1st recorded sighting of a Cape May warbler in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland
It should be wintering somewhere in the West Indies with its bird brothers and bird sisters.
But instead of spending time in Turks and Caicos or Barbados, a tiny yellow Cape May warbler has somehow ended up in Abbotsford, B.C.
"We don't see this here," said bird photographer Nick Balachanoff. "To my understanding, it's the first identified Cape May warbler in the Lower Mainland or Fraser Valley."
The Cape May was spotted a few days ago by birder Neal Doan in Mill Lake Park. Doan put out the word to the local birding community, alerting Balachanoff, who was able to capture a number of beautiful photos.
Although other warbler species are common in the area, no one knows how this particular bird wound up in Abbotsford.
Cape May warblers do range as far west as Alberta and northeastern B.C. during the summer. A few have been spotted in the Okanagan, but normally they fly south for the winter.
Balachanoff says the bird has been feeding on the nectar of the winter flowering mahonia bushes while chasing away the resident Anna's hummingbirds. His photos even show a ring of pollen and nectar that's built up around the little bird's beak.
"I count myself fortunate to get those photos," he said. "It's just a great little thing, especially against the dullness of January."