This Cape May warbler has been thrilling Abbotsford birders at Mill Lake Park since Jan. 1. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Wrong turn leaves Caribbean-bound bird in Abbotsford

Cape May warbler spotted at Mill Lake Park, attracting interest of Fraser Valley birders

Imagine preparing for a winter full of sun in the West Indies, but instead ending up in Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park.

That’s the situation that a Cape May warbler – a bird never before seen in the Lower Mainland – is now facing this winter.

The small bird has been attracting the interest of birders since it was spotted in the park on Jan. 1.

It’s seemingly found a home just north of the park’s boardwalk, and has been feeding on nectar and insects in a patch of flowers and brush.

(Video by: Bert Sharp)

Gord Gadsden, the founder of the Fraser Valley Birding group and the Fraser Valley regional editor for eBird, said the new visitor to Abbotsford has been creating a buzz in the local birding community.

“It’s caused mass excitement,” he said, noting that it all began when a local snapped a picture of a bird in the park that looked different. “The next morning there was a group of people cruising around to get a glimpse of it. It’s quite a show.”

Gadsden explained that it’s the first-ever recorded sighting of the bird in this area of the province.

“To ever see this bird in B.C. you would have to drive up to Fort St. John in the summer,” he said. “It’s really never been seen in the Lower Mainland and much of B.C. before.”

The bird’s breeding range is mostly central and eastern Canada in the summer, and the West Indies and some of Florida in the summer.

The normal breeding range of the Cape May warbler is Canada and the northeast in the summer and the West Indies in the winter as shown in this map.

Gadsden believes the bird is young and obviously made a wrong turn at some point.

“It’s wiring may not be quite right yet and it went southwest instead of southeast and kind of got lost and just settled in this area,” he said. “It’s supposed to be far south by this time. But, sometimes storms can also bring a bird out of range.”

Despite not being in ideal winter conditions, Gadsden said he thinks the bird has a chance to survive and has selected a good spot to reside.

“The site it’s chosen is very busy and it could be protected from predators,” he said. “I highly doubt it will go far – it won’t have the energy to get up and fly long distances. Migration is very energy consuming and conditions aren’t ideal. It’ll stay and survive or succumb to the elements – which we don’t want because we’re all cheering it on. But there are hawks and other raptors locally and sometimes rare birds get a target on their back.”

Gadsden said it’s a unique opportunity for bird lovers or interested locals to see something never seen before.

“From my perspective it’s highly unlikely to see such a thing locally – which is why we’re seeing big groups of people with binoculars and large camera lens checking the bird out,” he said.

The bird has been located in the same spot at Mill Lake Park every day since Jan. 1. For more information, visit bcbirding.proboards.com/thread/11528/cape-warbler-mill-lake.

Just Posted

PET CARE: Tips on caring for your senior pets

Columnist Nicolette Joosting shares her tips for helping senior pets get the most out of life

Kent surprised, concerned by $10M RCMP deficit

The district has been trying to get B.C. to pay for an additional RCMP member for months

Man who once killed a fellow inmate convicted of threatening guard at Kent

No prison time for threat nine years after MMA-style beating death in Maple Ridge

BREAKING: Vehicle fire on Highway 1 between Chilliwack and Abbotsford

One westbound lane blocked after 11:30 a.m. on Friday leading to traffic delays

Fraser Cascade students vape more often than average B.C. youth

Fraser Health’s Dr. Alexandra Choi shared her concerns around vaping, and what Kent could do about it

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison honour Remembrance Day

The annual ceremony took place at AESS, followed by a moment of silence at the Agassiz cenotaph

Paul Bissonnette joins Vancouver Warriors after tweeting he could walk on to an NLL club

Bissonnette will join the Warriors for their final week of training camp at Rogers Arena

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Body found after SUV found fully engulfed in flames in Abbotsford field

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team have been called in

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

Most Read