Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2011-22

Common name:

Palm Warbler

Scientific name: (Dendroica palmarum)  [Setophaga palmarum]
Date: May 10, 2011
Time: ~9:30 AM
Length of time observed: 2-3 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Male?; extent of chestnut in crown suggested a spring male.
Location: Fish Springs NWR
County: Juab
Elevation: 4300
Distance to bird: ~10 meters
Optical equipment: 10x42 Leica BN
Weather: Overcast & cool (~45F)
Light Conditions: Bright flat light
Description:        Size of bird: size of yellow-rumped warbler
(Description:)       Basic Shape: warbler species
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: lemon yellow, rufuous, and white
(Description:)            Bill Type: small, insect eating
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Field notes written immediately following observation of bird and only reordered below in description: (additional notes added after consulting Sibley and Dunn & Garrett and writing this report)

-chestnut colored crown (very distinctive and first noticed)

-dark eyeline with yellowish-white stripe above, brownish auricular (giving a strong face pattern and first noticed)

-yellow chin and throat (bright and obvious)

-chestnut sparse streaking from upper breast to flanks (same color as crown)

-dark eye

-underparts whitish (the extent of yellow on belly & underparts quite variable, ranging from dull white to yellow depending upon age, season, and subspecies)

-back brown with subtle streaking

-undertail coverts lemon yellow (very distinctive and first noticed)

-underside of rectrices with extensive white (very obvious and first noticed)

-constant 'pumping' of tail (diagnostic for this species and very obvious)

(The bird was insufficiently yellow on underparts and displayed less rufous streaking typical of hypochrysea, suggesting a nominate palmarum)

(Palm Warbler is an earlier migrant compared to many other warbler species, consistent with an early May sighting in Utah. In the midwest this species peaks during migration in late april to early may.)

Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: Gleaning insects from
cottonwood foliage; feeding about five meters in height from ground;
Habitat: Small number of cottonwood
trees in a sea of greasewood. To those who know FSNWR the bird was
observed at the Picnic area.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The chestnut crown, chestnut streaking on upper breast and flanks, lemon yellow chin/throat and undertail coverts, combined with distinctive 'pumping' of tail are diagnostic for spring adults of this species.

Other tail pumpers: Northern Waterthrush & L. Waterthrush are mostly streaky brown without the colorful rufous cap or lemon yellow coverts and throat on this bird. I did tally a Northern Waterthrush on this May Survey elsewhere on the refuge. Prairie Warbler is also a tail pumper
but does not have chestnut cap, and a different face pattern. Kirtland's Warbler is also a tail pumper but does not show chestnut in plumage,  has a completely different face pattern, and shows white undertail  coverts. It is also a bulkier bird.

A male Cape May Warbler has chestnut on face and head but is not a tail  pumper, the face pattern is also quite different, black instead of  chestnut streaking on breast and flanks, undersides yellow, and  undertail coverts showing less yellow than on this observed bird.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Considerable - multiple 100's to thousands observed in Western New York, Illinois, Minnesota, S. Ontario (in migration), in Minnesota (on territory) and Northern Florida (wintering).
References consulted: Sibley and Dunn
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Jack Skalicky
Observer's address: 511 First Avenue, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: None
Date prepared: May 11-12, 2011
Additional material: none
Additional_Comments: The bird flew
from the picnic area westward. I attempted to relocate without success.