Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-38

Common name:

Blackpoll Warbler

Scientific name: Dendroica striata
Date: September 2, 2006
Time: 7:15am
Length of time observed: 30 seconds
Number: 1
Age: first fall
Sex: ?
Location: W Bank of Jordan River 100 yds N of 5400 S
County: Salt Lake
Elevation: lowland riparian
Distance to bird: 8-15m
Optical equipment: 8x42 binoculars
Weather: clear
Light Conditions: Early in the morning. Sun was behind and below the bird and blocked by foliage. No problems seeing good color on the bird.
Description:        Size of bird: medium-large warbler
(Description:)       Basic Shape: a rather plump warbler
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: whitish/greenish yellow below, greenish/blackish above
(Description:)            Bill Type: thin black warbler bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
From about 15 meters I got a Dendroica in my binoculars, and I was able to look at it for at least 5 seconds in an unobstructed side-on view. Based on my fine-tuned fall warbler skills (from
Michigan where we have excellent warbler diversity and 10-15 species can be found in my backyard many days in September) I knew immediately that I was looking at a Blackpoll/Pine/Bay-breasted Warbler. The bird had an overall streaked and clean-cut appearance with that yellowish-greenish-buffy hue that screams "blackpoll" but I first had to rule out Pine and Bay-breasted. The face was greenish-yellow with a pronounced eye line creating a "Baypoll" facial expression. The bird was generally blackish/olive-colored above, with blackish wings posessing wing bars. The sides and flanks were greenish-yellow with visible streaking, thus
eliminating Bay-breasted. At one point the bird bent down towards me to glean a hanging leaf, and I got a full-on clear view of the back. The back was heavily streaked with black longitudinally against a green background, thus eliminating Pine Warbler. I failed to note the leg
color due to time constraints while viewing the bird.
Song or call & method of delivery: not observed
Behavior: Foraged slowly with 2-3 second pauses between flights, as is typical for this species. Flew from branch to branch in riparian trees. At one point, the bird bent down to glean from some leaves and I observed the bird's back at this time. Average foraging height during observation: 5 meters.
Habitat: Lowland riparian trees along the Jordan River, near a brushy edge.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Bay-breasted Warbler: My bird had greenish-yellow sides/flanks with visible streaking.

Pine Warbler: My bird had a fully streaked back.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I just moved here from Michigan where the Blackpoll is one of the most common fall migrants. I have seen 10-30 Blackpolls per fall for the last 10 years. Each fall in Michigan I have seen 1-5 Bay-breasted and 0-1 Pine Warblers as well. I have had ample time to get used to identifying this fall warbler trio among themselves and against other warbler species that are supreficially similar, such as Yellow-rumped.
References consulted:  I consulted Kenn Kaufman's Advanced Birding, Peterson's Warblers, and Sibley after writing up my initial description to send to the records committee.
Description from: From memory
Observer: David Slager
Observer's address: 1345 University Village, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none
Date prepared: September 11, 2006
Additional material:  
Additional comments: I initially wrote up the bird on Monday, September 4 and submitted this report online that day. However, the online submission failed so I am writing it up again, fresh, from memory. This is
unfortunate but I am still 100% positive of my identification.

This description is based on less than 30 seconds of original mental warbler "footage" and it's now 9 days after the initial sighting. It is unfortunate that my initial records committee submission was lost online. Fortunately, while typing this out the first time, I was very careful to note only field marks that I distinctly remembered actually seeing on the bird at the time of the sighting. And that description is coming back to me quite well as I re-type this.