Wood and Willow Warblers wow crowds in California


A Wood Warbler has shocked US birders by turning up in a suburban park in Los Angeles, quickly followed by a Willow Warbler near San Francisco.

The former, discovered at Willow Springs Park in Long Beach on 16 October, represents the first of its kind ever seen in California and the Lower 48 states. All previous North American records of this European species had come from Alaska.

Similarly, Willow Warbler had too never been seen in the Lower 48 states until one was photographed at Rodeo Lagoon in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, on 18th.

Wood Warbler is almost exclusively confined to Europe as a breeding species, with the eastern edge of its range reaching the Ural Mountains – a straight-line distant of more than 9,600 km away from Los Angeles, meaning the Willow Springs bird is now essentially on the opposite side of the planet to where it was born. Willow Warbler breeds much further east than its cousin, into eastern Siberia, but would still have to travel some 5,000 km in the wrong direction to reach northern California.

The mega finds follow North America's first Icterine Warbler, which was discovered at Gambell, Alaska, in September.