Recently many bemused birders have been flocking to Sedgewick Park in Oakville Ontario to see several warblers: in winter! There have been authenticated reports of an Orange Crowned Warbler and a Nashville Warbler and although there seems to be some confusion also reports of a Bay Breasted Warbler (which might be a Blackpoll Warbler.)
Mark Crawford, while commenting on a blog post (with photos!) by Josh Vandermeulen about the warblers at Sedgewick, stated that for the Christmas bird counts in south Peel:
- Yellow Rumped Warblers have been seen annually since 2006
- Orange Crowned Warblers have been seen three times, and
- Nashville Warblers have been seen twice.
There have also been reports of a Golden Crowned Kinglet in the park. Kinglets, though adorable, are not uncommon, even in winter. Want to guess which bird I saw when I visited Sedgewick?
(I included the blurry photo to show a bit of the golden crown.)
Given that we had several inches of snow on the ground and temperatures well below 0 celcius, many of us may be wondering what these colourful little tufts of feathers were eating.
Turns out Sedgewick has a smelly secret. It’s home to a sewage treatment plant. The water is warm from decomposition and is aerated as part of the process. And where there’s warm open water, you can get bugs.
I realize this photo may make you squint a bit, but if you look closely or use your imagination, you’ll see there are dozens of mosquito-sized flies buzzing around this tree. Speaking as someone who walked through these clouds, I can attest to the fact that the bugs are plentiful and plump.
While these warblers are not flycatchers they are capable of catching flying insects. Cornell University says the orange crowned warbler, “sometimes hawks for arboreal or flying insects.” Nashville warblers, Cornell says, usually glean insects from the tips of branches and other spots. Bay breasted warblers can also eat a bit of fruit in winter, says Cornell.
To read some of the discussion about the warblers visiting Sedgewick and to see links to videos of the warblers, please see the Videos of Warblers at Sedgwick Park, Oakville by Luc Fazio
Have you had warblers winter near you? If so, do you have an enviable southern abode or was there some unusual food source available? Please share your experiences with a comment.