February 20th: A Yellow-rumped Warbler!?

When I started the census this morning the temperature was a few degrees below zero and a light wind was blowing out of the west but the sun had that warm feel to it. You know the feel – the one that makes you start listening for early Red-winged Blackbirds and Killdeer. While I was musing on this I thought maybe I had sunk too deep into the reverie as I thought I heard the ‘chip’ note of a Yellow-rumped Warbler. But, no, it was real. The bird was foraging along the trunk and among the branches of a tree about 150 m north of the Mansion, picking off…..well, I’m not sure, but whatever hangs out on tree trunks and branches in mid-February. It certainly seemed to be in good shape and none the worse for wear for having lived through the Winter (almost) at this latitude. I would be curious to know how it managed the really cold nights and the few storms that we’ve had.
This is a bird that was taking a chance but looking like it was going to win against the odds. Birds that return early to the breeding area and establish a territory before others get there have a better chance of getting a mate and nesting successfully. Therefore, some birds take a chance of wintering as far north as possible (for them) so that they can be that “early bird”. However, this only works if the winters aren’t too severe – like this one.

Otherwise birding/banding was unremarkable.


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