Imagine, in the heat of the summer, stumbling upon a tiny oasis. A place with lush tree cover and a stream tumbling over rocks and gently lapping against a shoreline full of life and food. Imagine that you are safe in this oasis and that during your stay there, you become very healthy. Visualize yourself transforming from an intrepid traveler to an integral part of the oasis. Slowly, you lose track of time and eventually, you lose track of where you are completely. The oasis is eternal, a fountain of youth.
But then something in the air changes. A crispness. And then a wind that brings a biting cold. Food becomes scarce and the luster in the eye of the stream fades to the glow of a lightbulb under a blanket.
You, knowing that the oasis is safe and provides plentiful food, stay on searching. But being under the spell of your new home, you have forgotten that the very first change in the air was a cue for you to move on. To chase the warmth.
This is the dramatized account of a migrating songbird more or less forgetting about migration. It's more common than it seems. If you live in a place with marked winter weather changes, you can probably find one of these oases or "traps." Look for a nutrient-rich water source and flora that act as a source of food and a shield against predators.
Kelly's Brook in St. John's, Newfoundland is one such trap. Birders around town refer to it as a warbler trap because that's often the type of bird that strands itself there. This year it played host to a Yellow Warbler (sadly, he did not survive) and a Wilson's Warbler that fared much better.
As you can see, he had some help making it through the Newfoundland winter (ongoing, as we speak). A local birding enthusiast bops around town to all the stranded, desperate cases that have forgotten to migrate and provides them with suet sticks or food of another kind. Some folks are of the opinion that this isn't a good idea because we should let nature take its course. Some say, What's the harm in feeding a handful of birds so that they survive the winter? I'll let you make up your own mind on that one. I'm really more concerned about why the Wilson's Warbler wouldn't want to be in Mexico right now. I certainly wish I was.
Because the warbler trap, Kelly's Brook, is a hidden gem of a water source, other birdies enjoy it too.
Tomorrow I am traveling back to Colorado, my homeland. I'm very excited to bring you coverage of the 2016 Sandhill Crane migration if I'm lucky enough to witness it in my part of the state. Stay tuned for the final two 2birdfeature posts and the last few words on Protection Island.