Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-09

Common name:

Philadelphia Vireo

Scientific name: Vireo philadelphicus
Date: 05/24/2007
Time: 2:45 pm
Length of time observed: 30 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: male
Location: Capitol Reef National Park (picnic area)
County: Wayne
Elevation: 5400 feet
Distance to bird: 15 - 50 feet
Optical equipment: 10x42 Nikon Binocs and a Canon Camera w/ 400mm lens
Weather: Clear Skies and warm
Light Conditions: Sunny, good afternoon light
Description:        Size of bird: small
(Description:)       Basic Shape: vireo-like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: gray, white, black and yellow
(Description:)            Bill Type: vireo-like, short and thick
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
What can seemingly be a rather tough ID, this fairly bright individual was quite stunning and stood out, sometimes feeding within feet of Warbling Vireo nearby.

The birds underside was completely washed in yellow, while the back was somewhat olive. The wings appeared dark. The head had a strong pattern with a very dark brown-black crown that made the clean white supercilium stand out very well. The bird had a dark eye, with a crisp dark
eyeline, and dark lores that separated the white supercilium from the lighter cheek.

The cheek was a light gray with somewhat of a darker edge in the auriculars. This pattern set off the yellow throat which continued across the entire under side of the bird, including the undertail.

The tail was also relatively short in relation to the body.
(see photo)
Song or call & method of delivery: When I pulled up to the parking lot at the picnic area, I immediately heard what I thought was a Red-eyed Vireo singing above my car. Upon getting out and finding the bird I was stunned to see what looked like a Philadelphia. I immediately grabbed my camera and shot a couple pictures, before grabbing Sibley and reading the comment, "Song very similar to Red-eyed but higher-pitched on average..."
Behavior: Feeding in cottonwoods, and occasionally singing.
Habitat: Cottonwoods on the edge of a riparian area, in the middle of a canyon in the desert.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Warbling Vireo presents the biggest challenge. However, Warbling Vireo lacks the strong face pattern this bird had. Warbling typically has white lores connecting the light supercilium to the throat which is white along with the breast and the rest of the underside of the bird. The bill of the said bird also seemed thicker in comparison to the nearby Warbling Vireos which were nearby and allowed for a nice comparison.

The fact that the bird was singing also helps in eliminating Warbling Vireo, as the songs of the two are definitely different.

Other vireos could be similar, but Bell's lacks teh supercilium, and the rest are quite different.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have seen 100's of Warbling Vireos over the years. Saw my first Philly Vireo last spring in Indiana and over the course of spring and fall migration saw around 50 in all, of a complete
range of colors and strength of pattern.
References consulted: Sibley Guide to birds.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Tim avery
Observer's address: Salt Lake City, Utah
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none
Date prepared: 05/26/2007
Additional material: Photo
Additional comments: