A Rare Find in Mississauga: April 2021

There has been considerable fuss this week over the discovery of a Phylloscopus Warbler. So many birders rushed to the spot that masks were worn and distances maintained in case of a call to the local police.

Willow Warbler (photo: blogspot.com)

How on earth did a Eurasian species end up in Mississauga?

I can think of three possibilities.

  1. the “Wizard of Oz” occurrence in which a major storm lifted the little feathered creature high in the sky and carried it to a new land across the Atlantic.
  2. the bird landed on a ship near the European west coast, fell asleep and didn’t wake until it was too far out at sea. I once crossed the Atlantic on a ship where there were a couple of little “stowaways.”
  3. the bird was someone’s pet and was shipped here by air and then abandoned.
Wood Warbler (photo: birdguide.com)

The next question is why are local birders calling it a Phylloscopus Warbler? We have Yellow Warblers and Pine Warblers in North America but none with long scientific names. “Phylloscopus” is of Greek origin for “to look at leaves.


At the end of the post, I will identify it.

My Hamlyn Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe contains 11 warblers in the Phylloscopus family. All look somewhat alike so how can the specific identification be made in Mississauga which so far from habitat across the sea? That why it has been called a Phylloscopus Warbler here.

Here are the 11:

Pallas’s Warbler

Pallas’s Warbler (photo: pinterest)


Greenish Warbler (photo: orientalbirdimages.org)


Arctic Warbler (photo: flickr)


Yellow-browned Warbler (photo: wikimedia)


Bonelli’s Warbler (photo: flickr)


Willow Warbler (photo: blogspot.com)


Wood Warbler (photo: birdguide.com)


Chiffchaff (photo: flickr)


Green Warbler (photo: indianbirds.org)


Dusky Warbler (photo: freenatureimages.eu)


Radde’s Willow Warbler (photo: sibirds.ru)

From a few years ago:

Rare birds | Miles Hearn


The large white patches on the wings indicate that this is a Northern Mockingbird.

Northern Mockingbird


A warbler identification has been determined:

At 6.15 pm, April 25, 2021, Gordon & Michael Biro observed the Yellow-browed Warbler feeding at eye-level, in modestly dense creek-side shrubbery, in Shalebank Hollow Park, on the west bank of Mullet Creek, 200 m east of Shalebank cul de sac & 600 m east of the formal pathway near Hwy 403, the last location we were reliably told that the bird had been seen the previous day.     The bird was in a loose feeding flock of 10 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 4 Golden-crowned Kinglets & one Red-breasted Nuthatch.    Two Brown Creepers were immediately nearby.    We viewed the Warbler for 30 seconds, at a distance of 5 m, then, at 6.20 pm, we spotted it again 50 m further east & watched it for one minute, as close as 4 m away, from just above ground level to 3 m up.   We never left the edge of the creek bed & the pathway is fragile to non-existent most of the way.   It would be ill-advised for any more than 3 birders at a time to be on this route & this is an advisory that the rocky & slippery footing poses a risk to non Mountain Goats. 

Miles note: from the Hamlyn Guide: The Yellow-browned Warbler is a rare but regular autumn visitor to north-western Europe from Asiatic range. On migration found in woods as well as in bushes. Resembles Willow Warbler in habits, and often associates itself with other migrating Phylloscopus species and tits.


Song of the Willow Warbler

I rode the wings of night on rising air
That carried me from Africa’s wild shore;
To fields of meadowsweet and maidenhair
To sing of heaven’s dome and ocean’s floor. – Sara Russell

Miles Hearn

2 thoughts on “A Rare Find in Mississauga: April 2021

  1. Maria Pedersen

    Such a lovely list of possibilities for the appearance of this new little beauty. I see the thrill of bird watching. Thanks for this post.

  2. Lisa Volkov

    Hope it wasn’t a super-spreader event! Can the poor little thing survive here? These warblers are wonderful. Before I started going on your walks, Miles, I don’t believe I had even heard of warblers. And there are so many varieties! Thanks, Miles!


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