Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2004-

Common name:

Golden-winged Warbler

Scientific name: Vermivora chrysoptera
Date: May 19, 2004
Time: 3:15 to 3:45 pm
Length of time observed: about 2 minutes total on 4 occasions
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: female
Location: Home Ranch, at Deseret Land and Livestock
County: Rich
Latilong: ?
Elevation: abour 6200'
Distance to bird: 10-30 feet
Optical equipment: Leica 10x42 binoculars
Weather: partly cloudy, cool
Light Conditions: excellent - the bird and observer were in the shade on an otherwise bright day
Detailed description of bird: Shape was that of a rather stubby, long-billed warbler, with a relativelty short tail, and a pointed head/bill appearance (probably accentuated by the facial markings), somewhat similar in shape to Tennessee Warbler. The underparts were almost uniformly grayish white (no streaking), and the upperparts darker gray with some olive tones to the wings. The tail was dark gray above; I wasn't able to see the underside of the tail clearly. The nape was dark gray (same as the back color), and the crown and forehead were rather bright golden/yellow. There was a dark gray (not black) facial patch which started narrowly at the bill and extended through the eye and included the auriculars. There was a large, triangular throat patch of the same color. These two areas of gray were separated from the crown and each other by a thin white eyebrow and a wider, triangular white malar stripe. The wing had a large, bright yellow patch (the same color as the forehead), more like!a single, double-wide wingbar than two separate wing bars.
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: The bird was foraging very actively in dense brush, and was rather skulky. It stayed low in the brush in a dense tangle of dead branches and a mass of golden currant. I was able to see it three times briefly at a distance of about 30' during which I could make out the general head pattern and wing patch. I circled to the other side of the brushy area, and in came out to pishing to the front side of a large currant bush where it remained for about 10-15 seconds, allowing a full view at a range of about 10' before diving back into the brush. I could not locate it after that.
Habitat: Dense riparian brush/trees, with narrowleaf cottonwood, willow and golden currant
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Warbler shape and bill eliminate birds of other families, such as vireos. The yellow wing patch and head pattern eliminate all other warblers except for hybrids with Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus). Although these hybrids can show a wide range of characteristics between these two species, this bird did not show any features of Blue-winged Warbler. There was no yellow on the underparts or sides of the head, and there was no white in the wings. The facial pattern was typical for Golden-winged Warbler.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen both Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers on many occassions over the last 30 years, including sightings of both species in Mexico within the past year.
References consulted: National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North
America (fourth edition)
The Sibley Guide to Birds
Peterson Field Guide to Warblers
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Mark Stackhouse
Observer's address: 1432 Downington Ave.; Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: There were several people with me (it was a field trip with a total of 20 participants), and though a few managed brief views of the bird, I didn't get the names of those who saw it.
Date prepared: May 23, 2004    (General Public)
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