Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-46

Common name:

Pine Warbler

Scientific name: Dendroica pinus
Date: 11/26/07
Time: 9:30 am
Length of time observed: 20 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adutl?
Sex: female?
Location: Lytle Ranch
County: Washington County
Elevation: 2700'
Distance to bird: 15-40'
Optical equipment: 10x42 binocs and 400mm camera lens
Weather: Clear Skies
Light Conditions: sunny
Description:        Size of bird: similar to a Yellow-rumped Warbler
(Description:)       Basic Shape: warbler
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: olive yellow
(Description:)            Bill Type: dagger-like warbler bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
When I first spotted the bird it jumped out as being something not Yellow-rumped, which were everywhere at the time. After getting close enough the bird appeared to be from the "Bay-poll-pine" complex. Olive-yellow wash over mush of the body, dark wings with two white wing bars and a pale belly.

My initial reaction was that the bird was a Bay-breasted Warbler. However, Rick Fridell and I watched the bird for a while noting several irregularities for Bay-breasted. Most notably the long tail which Rick noted several times. The bird also appeared to have faint streaks in the flanks, a dark auricular patch, and pale edges on the tertials as opposed to the white of a Bay-breasted. Further inspection revealed what appeared to be yellow-gray legs and white undertail coverts.

The bird also had a yellow broken eye-ring, and what appeared to be a yellow wash on the neck and throat. Upon returning to the car and checking references it was apparent that the bird was indeed a Pine Warbler and not a Bay-breasted. The shots of the undertail show the longish appearance of tail and the unique tail pattern
(see photos "D" and "E")

I assume that the bird was an adult female, but am not sure how variable 1st winter females can be so it may have been a 1st year bird.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: may have heard the bird give a "sueet" call when flying over, but did not see it give the call.
Behavior: Actively foraging in mature cottonwoods
Habitat: Riparian corridor mainly Fremont Cottonwood, in a desert wash.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
1st winter female Bay-breasted Warbler is very similar, but has a much shorter tail and different tail pattern. It lacks the dark auricular patch and faint streaking on the flanks. This species also has buffy undertail coverts and broad white edges on the tertials. The tail seems to be the biggest factor in eliminating this species.

1st winter female Blackpoll Warbler is similar, but has streaking, or braces on the back that are quite evident. This species also tends to be more of a yellow-green as opposed to the warm yellow-olive of the bird in question. This species also has a short tail, similar to the Bay-breasted, and lacks the auricular patch.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Very familiar with Blackpoll from living back east. Have seen a good number of first year Bay-breasted type as well as several first year Pine Warblers (numerous adult males of both species). I don;t believe I have ever seen an adult female Pine however.
References consulted: Sibley Guide to Birds
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Tim Avery
Observer's address: Salt Lake City, Utah
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Rick Fridell
Date prepared: 11/27/07
Additional material: Photos
Additional Comments: