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  • Writer's pictureVicki Wilmarth

Northern Parula in Palo Duro Canyon

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

Someone needed to tell this bird it was the middle of November and he wasn't supposed to be here.

Northern Parula in Palo Duro Canyon 11-16-19

I was birding at Palo Duro Canyon State Park early in the morning of Saturday, November 16, 2019. I spotted this little bird along the Comanche Trail, which runs behind Hackberry Campground along the creek and is one of the best birding trails in the park. Typical for a warbler, this bird was incredibly difficult to photograph at all, much less photograph well, because warblers are constantly in motion. I took the pictures and didn't see any but this one that were very good. When it came time to identify it, I made a mistake.

My mistake in trying to identify this one was laziness. I saw another warbler that day, an orange-crowned warbler, which is common for our area, so I didn't pay close attention to any pics of this bird and just posted it on EBird as another orange-crowned warbler.

Turns out, this is a Northern Parula. They don't live in the Texas Panhandle or even often migrate through here. They certainly aren't supposed to be in Palo Duro Canyon in mid-November. I had found a rarity and didn't even recognize it.

It took Anthony Hewetson, the volunteer regional data reviewer for EBird, to correct my mistaken ID, days after the fact. That means that no one else in the local birding community was alerted to look for this bird and there is no record of how long he stayed. I failed at Citizen Science 101.

But I did see a really cool bird. I just wish I had realized it!

Here are a few other poor photos of that same bird on November 16, 2019.

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