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Pine Warbler Sighting Attracts Bird Watchers to Antioch Park
POSTED: 01/16/2003
Bird watchers are all aflutter over the recent sighting of a small yellow bird at Antioch Park.

During the first week of January, Antioch Park Maintenance Worker Rex Miller reported and had verified his sighting of a pine warbler.

"I knew it wasn't supposed to be here when I saw it," Miller said. "I was sitting at the table overlooking the feeder and I said 'holy cow! - that's a warbler - what's it doing here?"

The warbler frequents feeders on the south side of the maintenance building on Antioch Park's east side. The pine warbler resembles a pudgy goldfinch that hasn't lost its bright summer plumage, but also differs from the by having a longer, more pointed beak.

While the pine warbler isn't especially rare and is occasionally seen in this area during migration, the sighting of a lone male in January in east central Kansas puts it well outside its normal winter range, which usually extends only into southern Missouri and throughout the southeastern United States.

As a result, the warbler sighting has been reported on local birding websites and is drawing birders who want to add this bird to their life lists.

"They're really uncommon around here because we don't have the kind of habitat they like," said longtime birder Fred Young who came to Antioch Park from his home in Independence on a recent morning to see the warbler for himself.

True to its name, the pine warbler prefers pine forests. Birders thought the grove containing one large white pine and two large Austrian pines just south of the maintenance building may have been enough to attract this odd visitor.

No one knows how long the warbler will stay and there are unverified reports that it has been in the area since November. Birders speculated that it could leave anytime or possibly succumb to Kansas' wintery temperatures.

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