Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-56

Common name:

Worm-eating Warbler

Scientific name: Helmitheros vermivora
Date: November 25, 2006
Time: 10:00a.m.-4:00p.m.
Length of time observed: Many times during the day; longest period about 45 min
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: Beus Park, Ogden
County: Weber
Latilong: 3 (N 4110.992' W11156.180)
Elevation: 4939-4963 feet
Distance to bird: 20-75 feet
Optical equipment: 8 x 42 binoculars
Weather: Sunny, 45
Light Conditions: Shade dappled with sunshine
Description:        Size of bird: Small; stocky for a warbler
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Chunky passerine due to head appearing larger than in most warblers and short wide tail.
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Strong black and buff crown, olive upperparts with no pattern. Pale to bright buff underparts fading to dingy yellowish on lower belly, gray to olive on sides and flanks with no pattern
(Description:)            Bill Type: Insect-eating, but big for a warbler
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Bare Parts:

Bill: bi-colored; black upper mandible, pale pink lower mandible. Bill long and fairly stout for a warbler; reminded me of an oriole bill. Slightly downcurved.

Legs: pink

Eyes: black

Head: Disproportionately large for a warbler and crown somewhat flat; shape reminiscent of an Ammodramus sparrow. Bold crown pattern of jet black and buffy stripes. Median crown stripe was buffy. Both lateral crown stripes were black and somewhat irregular width, wider than black
eyelines. The end of both lateral black stripes could be seen at the back of the crown because they were longer than the black eyelines. Supercilium stripes were buffy. Eyelines thin, black and uniform width back to the nape. Cheek dull buff. Throat pale buff.

Dull olive lacking any markings. Tail same color as upper parts; short but wide; square end.

Breast: Upperbreast bright buffy fading to dull, pale yellowish-olive on lower breast and belly.
Sides to flanks: Pale grayish-olive

Undertail coverts: Whitish with indistinct gray feather edges giving a murky scalloped effect.
Underside of retrices: Grayish or possibly dull olive
(see photos)

Song or call & method of delivery: Call or flight notes usually two slightly burry Seep! Seep! sounds immediately upon launching. Was a good clue that the bird was leaving immediate area. Usually silent when foraging.
Behavior: Remained low, much of the time 18 inches from the ground, but not on the ground. Gleaned from dead bracken fern almost constantly. Sometimes foraged on oak tree trunks no higher than 5 feet. Never stopped moving. Behavior was reminiscent of wrens and kinglets. Flicked wings
constantly. Seemed to be on a circuit traveling along a 45 slope and then returning to a more level area with similar habitat. Sometimes flew no higher than 6 feet through oak trees. Appeared to do a couple fly-catching loop-de-loops
Habitat: Shady deciduous old growth oak. Understory was thick dead bracken fern and poison ivy. Slope with same oak habitat and understory.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Golden-crowned Kinglet: Review bird was stocky with a big bill, unlike the petite kinglet. Bold crown pattern was black and buffy; no gold or strong orange. Review bird had no wing bars
or pale feather edges.

Both waterthrushes and Ovenbird: Review bird s breast and belly were unmarked; no heavy spotting or streaking like waterthrushes and Ovenbird.

Swainson s Warbler: Review bird had a bold black and buff striped crown pattern; no plain rusty-brown as with Swainson s. Review bird also showed bright buff on upper breast. Swainson s has grayish breast.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
None with Worm-eating. I see kinglets regularly in Utah, especially in winter. Have seen Northern Waterthrush four or five times in the last 3 years; no experience with Louisiana Waterthrush. Saw the 2004 Ogden Ovenbird many times.
References consulted: Sibley, Peterson s Warblers
Description from: From memory
Observer: Kristin M. Purdy
Observer's address: 1961 Arapaho Circle, Ogden, UT 84403
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Glenn Barlow, Keith and Betty Evans, Pomera Fronce, Jack Rensel, Arnold and Linda Smith, David Wheeler, Larene Wyss
Date prepared: November 25, 2006
Additional material: Photos: Paul Higgins' photos at:
Additional comments: Description made independent of photos.