Sunday, November 6, 2016

Manitoba's Painted Redstart

Manitoba's first and Canada's third Painted Redstart (Myioborus pictus), also known as "Painted Whitestart", showed up in Pinawa 11 days ago. This species breeds from Arizona and New Mexico down through the mountains of western Mexico into Nicaragua. Although the southern populations are resident, the populations in the southern U.S.A migrate south. Sometimes, the phenomenon of "reverse migration" takes a bird in the wrong direction, presumably due to a miscue of the innate (genetic) aspect of migration. In this case, instead of heading south towards Mexico this Painted Redstart has flown north to Manitoba and found itself in Pinawa. Its behaviour over the past 11 days suggests it has set up a winter territory in a small residential area. Currently it has enough to eat and appears very healthy (flying well and foraging actively) but its prospects of escaping winter's inevitable grip are slim. For now though, the balmy November weather southern Manitoba is enjoying is keeping our rare visitor in fine form and a steady stream of birders have come to watch this rarity. Seeing this bird today along with northern species like Hoary Redpoll, felt a little surreal. The four photos below show the bird perched, feeding by gleaning invertebrate prey from bark, and calling. Most interesting for me was to observe how it foraged like a nuthatch (third photo) in an effort to glean food from bark crevices (and also dead insects presumably from gutters and the like).

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