Mystery Bird in the Middle of the Atlantic Ocean

 

Mystery bird on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Donna L. Long.
Mystery bird on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Donna L. Long.

Nature Journal, October 07, 2020

I have never been able to identify this little bird to my satisfaction. I think it is a warbler. But, let me tell my story.

In 2006, my family decided to go on a cruise up the east coast. We had never been on a cruise and wanted to know what the hub-bub was about. Nova Scotia was our chosen destination. Being on the Atlantic Ocean on a enormous ship was a novel experience.

After arriving in Nova Scotia we booked a trip on a whale watch. We didn’t see one whale. The boat passengers were not happy. And the whale watch operators made sure to end the trip at their little gift shop on the pier. I don’t think any of us disappointed “didn’t see one whale” watchers bought anything.

Donna on disappointing whale watch off the coast of Nova Scotia. Photo by Ruby Long.
Donna on disappointing whale watch off the coast of Nova Scotia. Photo by Ruby Long.

As the trip was not my most enjoyable, I spent much of my time on the top deck around the pool. On the deck chair next to me this little bird perched on the chair. It was so friendly toward me. It cheered me right up.

But, I never have been able to identify it. Maybe you can help.

We were far out in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere between the coast of Maine and Nova Scotia. The date was August 22, 2006.

Mystery bird on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Donna L. Long.
Mystery bird on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Donna L. Long.

I notice the gray head, white eye ring, orange blush of color along the sides, yellow bar on wings, and the yellow under the tail. Was it on migration or just on a daytrip? (See also bird migration routes.)

 

Nashville_Warbler (Orenthlypis ruficapilla).
Nashville_Warbler (Orenthlypis ruficapilla). By Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren – Wikimedia

My guesses have narrowed it down to a warbler. Because of the white eye ring and blushes of yellow on its sides, I have thought it was a Nashville Warbler or a Virginia’s Warbler. The Virginia’s would be quite a bit out of range. (yellow warbler birds identification photo gallery)

Virginias Warbler_(Leiothlypis virginiae. Photo by By Dominic Sherony - Uploaded by Magnus Manske, Wikimedia.
Virginias Warbler_(Leiothlypis virginiae. Photo by By Dominic Sherony – Uploaded by Magnus Manske, Wikimedia.

Could it be from Europe?

Does anyone has any idea who this little bird who saved my trip for me, is? You would help me solve a old mystery.

Mystery bird on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Donna L. Long.
Mystery bird on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Donna L. Long.

9 comments

  1. I’m leaning towards Nashville warbler. They are common enough in that vicinity,and it’s not unusual for a lot of migrants to move over water. It does look close to a first year bird.

  2. Hi I’m new here. I’m really enjoying your blog! My guess is a female American Redstart but I’m on the west coast and have never actually seen one so I probably got it wrong. I hope you figure out what it is! At least it was a cute pretty little bird!

    • Hi, Sonya! Welcome. Kirk (another reader) thinks it maybe be a Nashville warbler. But, your guess of a female Redstart – I think is pretty darn close. Maybe it is a warbler mashup of Nashville and Redstart (both warblers). Thanks for joining in.

      • I guess that yellow on the secondaries threw me off. That’s a difficult distinction! Most of the warblers I’ve encountered out here are pretty easy to distinguish so I don’t have a lot of experience with the hard ones!

      • Thanks, Sonya. If the readers of this blog can’t figure it out, I guess it will remain a mystery.

    • Hi, Jeff – Thanks for the comments, though. Nice to hear from you. Let’s see what others guess.

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