I have wanted to see a Prairie Warbler forever. When Ilya and I went to Texas we dipped on them as we were a tad early before they got back to their breeding grounds. I think they are one stunning warbler and was pretty disappointed we didn't get one. So when I heard that one had showed up in Vernon (BC'S 5th confirmed record), I took my first chance on Friday and drove up. Friends Larry Cowan and Janice White wanted to join. The highway was clear on the drive, we only had a little bit of snow falling on the connector. We got there at 4pm due to my commitments and looked hard for 2 hours in the rain until dark. We found a Black-capped Chickadee flock, Ring-necked Pheasant, and a late Cassin's Vireo that Chris Siddle had found a few days prior. It is the latest Cassin's Vireo that I've ever seen in BC. It was very active and seemed to follow us throughout the park. I found a great hotel the Rivera Plaza Hotel. It was on special for 49$ a night; which if in Vancouver would be a hotel on skid row lol. However, this hotel was rated 4 stars and was beautiful clean and comfy and even gave us a continental breakfast!. We had a nice dinner at Earl's and went to bed tired but hopeful we would find the bird tomorrow morning. 

We woke up and after a quick breakfast at Tim Hortons where we had the unfortunate pleasure of listening to a man do a racist rant against Blacks and First Nations, That PM Trudeau is making Canada a socialist nightmare and how white Christians built Canada, we went quickly to more positive things at Polson Park. 

We got to the lovely little riparian park and found many good birds including a Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrows, the continuing Cassin's Vireo and Black-capped Chickadees. It was very birdy. There were also Pygmy and Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Hermit Thrush, American Goldfinches, Black-billed Magpies, Dark-eyed Juncos, Mourning Doves, Song Sparrows, Brown Creepers, Belted Kingfisher, Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Siskins, Flickers and more. After searching 3 hours Mike Force heard the bird do a chip note. We went down the boardwalk to where he was but no one could see the bird, including him. We all continued to search and about 40 mins later the warbler popped up in a berry busy near to where Mike first heard him. The bird quickly disappeared and 30 mins later he popped up in another bush with red leaves. He stayed in this location for at least 35 mins providing great views and photo-ops for all present. He was so beautiful with his bright yellow body and black flank streaking. We were able to sex the bird as he had faint red streaking on his back. I was in awe at how brilliant he looked. He was a great new lifer for me!. 

He stayed in the area until 4:15pm and gave everyone who twitched that day excellent views. We along with other birders went to the restaurant Hotspot on 6th to have lunch and celebrate our success!. The food here was so delicious and I highly recommend this local venue. It was great to catch up with my Okanagan friends Chris Charlesworth, Doug Kragh, Mike Force, Jesse Hannebauer, Nick Swan and the like. Plus lots of friends who were also there from Vancouver.

BC'S 5th Prairie Warbler in Vernon - Photos: Melissa Hafting

A very late Cassin's Vireo in Vernon - Photos: Melissa Hafting

Sadly, despite our good showing, the Prairie Warbler was not relocated there the next day. On our way home we were lucky enough to spot a Rough-legged Hawk and a few owls including this roosting Western Screech-Owl, which was a perfect way to end our trip.

Western Screech-Owl on Halloween - Photo: Janice White

The Prairie Warbler was BC Bird # 440  and ABA Continental # 719 for me. A truly stunning warbler and it was another fun twitch with great people!. 


  1. Congratulations!! Beautiful fall colours 😊

  2. Congrats on another rarity! The rare birds this fall seem to be the gift that keeps on giving. And a western screech to round out the day... bonus!

    1. thanks so much ken! sure has been a good fall here in BC!

  3. beautiful photos of this gorgeous warbler. i would love to see one myself. i admire your determination to see rare birds. you go right away and get your bird you know not to snooze and lose. well done lady. thanks for making my day more bright with your post. i definitely need to get back to vernon it's been far too long.


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