Yellow-throated Warbler
Zion National Park Christmas Bird Count
28 January 2002
ca. 130 PM

John Spence
PO Box 833
Page, AZ 86040
spence@thedam.com

While counting birds in the vicinity of the Grotto Picnic Area/Trailhead I walked along the Virgin River on the south side, up canyon to the first obvious turn in the road, then walked north along a small channel filled with brush towards the river. There were some large cottonwoods to my right as I was walking. While counting some white-crowned sparrows I heard fin unfamiliar chip note that was clearly not that of a Yellow-rumped warbler, which would be the only likely warbler in winter. I turned and saw the bird in a cottonwood about 30-40 feet away, on the tip of a bare branch. The bird stayed there for long enough (30-45 seconds?) to be carefully studied. It seemed quite curious, and may have been attracted by my earlier pishing. It was roughly the size of a Audubon's yellow-rumped, but differed in many respects. The throat and upper breast were a brilliant lemon-yellow. The head had a distinct white supercilium, a distinct white eye-ring below the eye, and a triangular black patch behind the eye with an extension through the eye and to the base of the bill. A distinct white "ear-patch" directly behind the thickest part of the black patch was very obvious. The crown was gray, the back gray with a few faint tan/pale brown streaks on the lower back and tertials. The flanks had heavy streaking, including a heavy blackish zig-zag streak, with some faint black or tan streaks above and below. The belly was white. There were two distinct white wing bars. The vent and undertail coverts were white. The underside of the tail was white, and the upper side of the tail was gray. When the bird flew there were no obvious white tail spots as in yellow-rumped. Based on the coloring (faint brown), I thought it was possibly a first-fall female.

I have previous experience with this bird, having seen many individuals in the eastern US, Texas and Belize. Conditions were perfect, with full sun on the bird, with me facing away from the sun. I was using 10x42 Swarovski SLC's. I am 100% positive about this id.

Below I have organized notes and sketches:

Rough field sketch (xerox attached)
lrst Draft for CBC compiler (with Bob Showler)
2nd cleaner drawing (original attached)
Original scribbled field notes (xerox attached)