Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Big Surprise on Southern Lake Norman CBC

While going through a feeding flock of small land birds on Sunday's Southern Lake Norman Christmas Bird Count I was caught completely by surprise by one little bird that flew in to within 10 feet of me on the Davidson College campus.

The bird was small and predominantly yellow at first glance. I immediately thought "pine warbler" but I quickly noticed the presence of sharp black streaking on the upper and mid breast. CAPE MAY WARBLER!!

Cape May warblers come through our area every spring and fall and are not too hard to find. But one in mid-December is astounding; so much so that there are very few winter records for the entire state. When they are found it is usually at a feeder where a constant source of protein can be gotten. That bird needs to find a suet feeder in Davidson before it turns too cold.

Cape May Warbler by Jeff Lewis

Compare the above photo to the one of a pine warbler below. Pine warblers are the only expected small yellow bird to be found in our area during the winter. Note the conspicuous black streaking on the breast of the Cape May. The species also has one large, thick whitish wing bar on the shoulder. Pine warblers are pretty clear-breasted except for some diffuse faint streaking on the sides of the yellow breast. Note also the two prominent wing bars on the pine. Both photos depict males of each species.