Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 201

Common name:


Scientific name: Seiurus aurocapilla
Date: 25 May 2012
Time: ca. 7 - 8 am
Length of time observed: heard for over half hour, seen for a few seconds
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: unknown
Location: Willard Bay State Park Campground, north of camp spot 36
County: Box Elder
Latilong:  ?
Elevation: ca. 4250 ft
Distance to bird: 30-50 feet
Optical equipment: Leica 10x40 binoculars
Weather: I think it was partly cloudy
Light Conditions: the bird was in deep shade
Description:        Size of bird: wood warbler size (about 5-6 in)
(Description:)       Basic Shape: similar to a Catharus thrush
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: brownish above, pale below
(Description:)            Bill Type: small, thin passerine bill, typical of wood warblers
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
 I first noted the strident call coming from a very thick, moist area at a small creek. I recalled the bird was one of the warbler species I'd heard repeatedly in the forests of the Appalachian Mts. The bird turned out to be one of two I thought it might be (confirmed by comparison to recording).

I only saw the bird for a few seconds, and that only in deep shade, so the ID was based more on sound, behavior, and shape than color. Here's what I did see:

The bird was far smaller than a thrush. The color pattern was brownish above, pale below. I am pretty sure I saw dark streaking below. I am also nearly positive I saw a streak of orange on the crown.

The shape was more like a Catharus thrush than a warbler because the legs were fairly long and the tail was very short and the body was plump for a warbler.
Song or call & method of delivery: Loud & strident series of two-note phrases, seemingly getting louder, the stress being slightly on the second note. I'd render the the song as something like "tee-tuuu' tee-tuuu' tee-tuuu'", sometimes ending on a soft, higher note or a high-pitched "seee" note. [Note recordings provided with this record.] The song was coming from low in the thick bushes and slowly moved, with occasional jumps in location. It tured out the bird was walking along a ridge in the middle of the bushes.
(Audio Recordings)
Behavior: Stayed frustratingly hidden as it called. When I finally caught sight of it, it was walking on the ground along a ridge running down the center of a thick, hedge-like row of bushes. The walk was deliberate, with a bobbing body motion, and at least one bob of the tail. It walked steadily rather than dashing in bursts or hopping like most warblers or thrushes. It reminded me of an antthrush.
Habitat: Thick bushes (see above)
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Catharus thrushes (and for that matter all other warblers): by song and method of walking. Thrushes also by size.

Waterthrushes: by song and (I am nearly sure) orange crown stripe.

Sparrows: song, tail length, and manner of walking
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen this bird once in Utah and many times in the East.
References consulted: Natinal Geographic "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" and a computer program on a iPad owned by Laura Lockhart, which included bird sounds. I later compared the recorded song to mp3 downloads found on the Xeno-Canto website.
Description from: From memory
Observer: David S. Wheeler
Observer's address: 2196 South 1000 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Laura Lockhart (who heard, recorded, but never saw the bird)
Date prepared: 31 May 2012
Additional material:  
Additional_Comments: sound recording made by iPad