SW BC’s first record of Cape May Warbler

Today I went to look for the first record of a Cape May Warbler in SW BC. On Jan 1st my friend Neal Doan emailed me to ask what warbler he had found as he couldn't match any of the locally occurring ones in his field guide. Well when I wrote him back to tell him it was  Cape May with multiple "WOW's" he was thrilled. He found it while simply out for his dog walk. Great job Neal!

Even though they breed in the extreme north of our province (Peace Region); this is the closest record of this species occurring near Vancouver. The other distantly close record was a bird Chris Charlesworth found in Jan, 2006 in Nakusp which is in the Kootenays.

It was pouring rain... just bucketing. I went out in full rain gear prepared for the downpour. I wasn’t surprised to be the only one there. All the smart people went yesterday in the sun and dry weather. I found him immediately after walking the walkway. It’s too bad it was pouring so much because I would have liked to bird it properly as it’s a lovely birdy place. On that short walk I saw some great birds including American Coots, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe,  Common Merganser and Anna’s Hummingbird.

I was determined to get a photo. I had a rain sleeve (but hate using them), so with my umbrella as a shield, I put my camera out in the torrential rain and got a few quick record shots. It’s in alternate plumage and still stunning, even if it’s not in full breeding plumage. It’s definitely one of the prettiest breeding warblers in the province. It's funny it has been less than 4 months since I have seen a male Cape May Warbler. The last bird I found was a self-found male in at Waskesiu, SK. You can see a photo of that guy HERE.

Luckily due to good rain gear, the only thing that got soaked was my camera. I’m glad they make them water resistant! On the way home I stopped by to see if the Great Egret was still around. He’s another local winter rarity. I’m really surprised they aren’t breeding yet in BC.... with climate change soon they will be, like the Lesser Goldfinches that seem to be breeding in Osoyoos.

Below is a record shot of this brilliant guy. Note all the hardened sap/pollen on his bill. He’s been busy eating from some Mahonia Bushes nearby at the north end of a floating walkway at Mill Lake Park. A great winter bird and record for southwest BC.

Congrats again to Neal.

Cape May Warbler in Abbotsford - Photo: Melissa Hafting


  1. Yes! Wonderful... found him myself quite easily on my daily walk. Good record!

  2. Great that you got out to capture him Mel! What is this talk of not going after another local record total... could be off to a great start...? I left the Lower Mainland after three weeks to come back up to the sunshine here in Oliver, just prior to Neal's find! Did manage to catch the Egret while driving past our old home which was just up the road from the bird's location. (We've dipped five times on the local Goldfinch but haven't given up yet! Have a great new Year Mel and we will meet on the road when we find the next local rarity!

    1. hahah you may have a point there my friend ;). glad you got the egret and i know you will get the lesser goldfinch soon! happy new year and hope to see you soon! thanks always for all the support!


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