Thursday, December 9, 2010

Black-throated Gray Warbler

The Connecticut hits continued on Tuesday! The state has been unstoppable when it comes to very rare birds since the White-tailed Kite showed up on August 1. The first bird was a Black-throated Gray Warbler, endemic to the west coast from just into British Columbia through California and east to Colorado during the breeding season. It is seen in points south through Mexico in migration where it winters, though some may be able to be found in southern California. Past Connecticut records have come from the late fall and early winter, too. Frank Mantlik discovered this little gem in Westport while he was delivering mail. As Twan said, he is a rare bird magnet.

I know Frank has an extensive species list seen while working, with some very rare birds, but he did say this was probably the rarest passerine he has ever had on the job. He observed it foraging for insects in the small plantings of a house in a neighborhood right near Compo Beach. It was flitting around between yards and flying back and forth across the street. It stayed near the ground, and Frank was somehow able to grab his point and shoot and snap these quick photos of it:

Subsequent relocation searches that afternoon were unsuccessful. I was among a few people who searched the area Wednesday morning, but no one saw the little warbler again. After seeing the neighborhood I was even more impressed that Frank found it, and even more skeptical that it would be found. It was not exactly a great habitat for the species among lawns and small plantings. I believe it would feel much more at home near a sizable stand of trees. You just never know what you will find in Connecticut this year. We will soon see what the Christmas Bird Counts turn up - maybe the same species as Tuesday's second big rarity...

Photos © Frank Mantlik

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