Some birds rarely, if ever, visit our bird feeders. Years can pass by between sightings of such a bird at a Georgia feeder. However, recently a prothonotary warbler began feeding at a Sumter County feeder. If that is not enough, a Tennessee warbler is now dining at a feeder in Middle Georgia.
The Tennessee warbler nests throughout Canada’s boreal forests. It then spends the winter from southern Mexico south through Central America to northern South America. Typically, we only see Tennessee warblers when they migrate south (August –November) and when they fly back to their breeding grounds (April-May). On a few occasions, the birds have been seen Georgia until the middle of February.
The habitats occupied by the birds in winter are open woodlands and coffee plantations. In fact, they are often the birds most commonly seen in coffee plantations. For this reason, some refer to the Tennessee warbler as the coffee warbler.
Tennessee warblers feed primarily on critters such as caterpillars, beetles, aphids, spiders and beetles. However, on migration and during the winter, the birds will eat nectar and fruit.
During the winter Tennessee warblers often visit platform feeders stocked with plantains and bananas. However, it is almost unheard of to hear of one visiting a feeder outside of their winter home.
If you have seen a Tennessee warbler in your backyard, you probably saw it foraging for insects or visiting a birdbath.
The Middle Georgia bird is regularly feasting on a peanut butter/oatmeal mixture. It will be interesting to see how long the bird continues to reside in its unusual winter home and whether it will vary its diet.
In the meantime, we all need to keep our eyes peeled for the appearance of a rare winter visitor making an appearance where it is least expected. If it does, it may be in your backyard.