wintertime visitor: a rare warbler Leave a comment

I’M CELEBRATING New Year’s in the company of a rare bird and the flowers of the first of the witch hazels, neither of which is supposed to be here right now.

That’s the kind of year it has been, and I suppose will be again in 2024.

‘Jelena’ (below) is always my first witch-hazel to bloom each year, but typically it starts a month or more from now, sometime in late January or even February. Odd, but no peril to the plant.—unlike my avian visitor.

Ever feel like your life got way off course? A male Wilson’s warbler (top of page) should be on the Gulf Coast or farther south, but he is wintering here (Hudson Valley of NY) the last couple of weeks, foraging under my feeders with all the more expected species, and drinking from the opening in the ice in the adjacent water garden.

This is quite an uncommon bird here even in milder months—they pass through briefly en route from their wintering areas to their Canadian breeding grounds—but winter?

Presumably during fall migration he got blown off course, and happened upon my backyard, finding it to be hospitable enough to take up temporary residence in. Wilson’s warblers are insectivores, usually, but he is eating sunflower hearts (shelled sunflowers) from the ground at the moment; make do with what you’ve got, I guess.

Last week it was 13F degrees one night and I feared I would not see him again; that it would do him in. But there he was hopping around and chowing down all morning. Apparently he is determined to make the best of having lost his way.

He sets a good example for all of us who are feeling a little befuddled by the goings-on outside in our backyards, and across the planet.

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