Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2010-11

Common name:

Northern Parula

Scientific name: Parula americana
Date: 27 May 2008
Time: morning, ca. 8 am
Length of time observed: several minutes, on-off
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: male
Location: Lucin
County: Box Elder Co.
Distance to bird: 30 feet
Optical equipment: Leica 10x42 BN binoculars
Weather: sunny
Light Conditions: excellent
Description:        Size of bird: smallish warbler size (4-5")
(Description:)       Basic Shape: warbler-shape
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: dark above, pale below
(Description:)            Bill Type: thin, warbler-type bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Sorry that it has taken me so long to submit a report on this bird.  These are the notes I took in the field:

Green back.  Blue-gray on head & wings (with 2 white wing bars).  White eye crescents below eyes.  Short tail.  Yellow throat bordered sharply by blue gray.  Yellow upper breast with pale gray mid-breast & belly.  Blue gray collar on upper breast is thin & distinct) [I recall studying that closely in an effort to turn it into a Tropical parula--with no success].
Song or call & method of delivery: none described in my notes
Behavior: Gleaning for insects in an old tree.
Habitat: Migrant trap:  grove of tall deciduous trees (Cottonwoods, Box elder, Russian olive, etc.) around a man-made pond in a desert valley with salty soil.  This is the tallest & lushest growth for many miles around.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
1) Tropical parula:  Tropical parulas lack the blue-gray band on the upper breast and the white eye crescents.

Nothing else north of the Mexican border really resembles the Parulas (the Crescent-chested warbler of Mexico does, but has a distinct white eyebrow stripe and a maroon breast crescent rather than a blue-gray band, plus lacks wing bars), but here are some vaguely similar birds found in our region:

2) Cerulean warbler:  Males have blue back, lack yellow throat & have heavy streaking on breast & flanks;  females lacks breast band, head color is wrong and have a distinct eye stripe.

3) Mourning / McGillivray's warblers:  Both of these lack white wing bars and have greenish not bluish-gray wings.

4) Canada warbler:  The Canada warbler has yellow eye spectacles rather than white crescents around eye, lacks white wing bars, and the breast band is comprised of black streaks rather than blue-gray band.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen it on its wintering grounds in Latin America plus several times back East.
References consulted: National Geographic Society's "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" & Sibley's (thanks to birding buddy Larene)
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: David S. Wheeler
Observer's address: 2196 South 1000 East, Salt Lake City, UT  84106
Observer's e-mail address: dswheeer
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Larene Wysse was with me and able to observe the bird.
Date prepared: 15 March 2010
Additional material:  
Additional_Comments: Incredibly, I had my camera, but did not take any photos of this bird because I was looking for the Wood thrush reported earlier that week.  I did take photos of mourning doves, etc...

Also, there was a Black & white warbler nearby in the same grove, but I did not take any field notes on its field marks.