eBird rare bird alert strikes again!
We were glassing the Western pond at Benton Lake North of Great Falls for Least Tern when I checked my email and saw a rare bird alert, for NORTHERN PARULA, found by Kyle Strode, at the Nature Park in Helena! A great bird for Montana!
Without delay we pointed the Subaru towards Helena and made the drive in about 90 minutes, arriving at the Nature Park which was relatively deserted. Encountering a single birder at the North end of the park, we introduced ourselves and asked if they had seen the bird. They thought that they had heard it, and we decided to walk quickly to the far end of the park and slowly retrace our steps. There wasn’t a lot of bird activity this late in the afternoon, with the occasional Yellow Warbler sounding off and few Black-capped Chickadees. We’d been having a very difficult time finding any migrant warblers on our recent forays across the state, and after a half hour were afraid that we might dip once again. Until I lifted my bins to take a look at a singing Lazuli Bunting and panned right a little…..and settled right on the Northern Parula! Over the next few minutes the Lauzuli Bunting and Northern Parula flitted around the North end of the park, diving into shrubs and crossing back and forth. Then the Northern Parula settled into a tree not far from the parking area and gave us great looks, foraging and singing. Finally, our warbler drought had ended!