Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-32

Common name:

Blackburnian Warbler

Scientific name: Dendroica fusca
Date: 17 October 2007
Time: 8:30 am
Length of time observed: 5 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Immature
Sex: Female
Location: 1432 Downington Ave., Salt Lake City
County: Salt Lake
Latilong: ?
Elevation: 4300'
Distance to bird: 15 feet
Optical equipment: Leica 10x42 binoculars
Weather: Overcast, intermittent rain, but not raining a time of sighting
Light Conditions: fairly good considering the overcast - no distortion
Description:        Size of bird: warbler sized, about the same as nearby chickadees
(Description:)       Basic Shape: typical Dendroica warbler
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Mostly grayish/slightly greenish above, pale whitish/cream underneath
(Description:)            Bill Type: thin and pointed - warbler type
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Head: Gray cap with a very prominent, wide, pale, mostly whitish, but slightly cream-colored eyebrow, dark cheek patch, darker near the top of the patch as to almost appear as a wide, dark eyeline, pale crescent below the eye, cheek patch separated from the dark upperparts by a pale area extending behind the patch from the eyebrow to the throat. The patch formed a point on the lower edge behind the eye. The throat was pale/whitish or slightly cream-colored. The eye was dark.

Upperparts: The bird was mostly facing towards me, so I didn't have a clear view of the lowe part of the back or tail. The back appeared to be mostly dark gray, with darker wings and at least one prominent white wingbar visible (what appeared to be a second wingbar could also be
seen, but was not as noticeable).

Underparts: Very pale/ whitish with slightly more creamy color towards the throat. There wa no streaking on the underparts, except for perhaps some faint streaking along the upper flanks.

I did not see the tail well.
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: was sitting still on a branch of a maple tree outside my second-story window
Habitat: residential area with riparian woodland along Emigration Creek
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
My first thought was a Townsend's Warbler, but this bird had no real yellow on it, and the face pattern was not quite right (the "jizz" seemed wrong). Then I noticed the shape of the cheek patch wasn't correct - it came to a point on the lower edge behind the eye. The upper parts seemed too gray, and not green enough, for Townsend's as well.

I eliminated Yellow-rumped, Grace's and Black-throated Gray by the clearly separated cheek patch, and lack of streaking on the underparts.

Yellow-throated Warbler was eliminated by the lack of yellow in the throat.

The head pattern was inconsistent with other wablers and vireos.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen this and all similar species many times.
References consulted: Dunn & Garrett, Warblers Guide
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: none so far
Date prepared: 17 October 2007
Additional material:  
Additional Comments: I thought that this would be a late date for a vagrant Blackburnian, as they migrate rather early in the East, but the date is perfect for vagrants in the West, with the majority of the records being in the fall, peaking in late September through mid-October, with the date range being August through December.