Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-63

Common name:

Hermit Warbler

Scientific name: Setophaga occidentalis
Date: 08-04-2013
Time: 12:00pm
Length of time observed: 30 seconds
Number: 1
Age: ?
Sex: not adult male
Location: Table Cliff Plateau
County: Garfield
Latilong: 7
Elevation: 10,000ft
Distance to bird: 10m
Optical equipment: 10X50 Binoculars,Canon SX20 IS Digital Camera
Weather: overcast,calm,warm, 70F
Light Conditions: Moderate,backlit and in a mix of shade and sun of forest,but the overcast skies moderated things. It would have been worse if it was sunny
Description:        Size of bird: Small passerine
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Warbler shaped
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: yellow head,pale belly, black throat
(Description:)            Bill Type: short,thin
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
All I saw in the field was a warbler fluttering about through the tree,only after looking at the photos did I realize it might be a Hermit.I had come across a small flock of Warblers feeding in the conifers, the ones I got a good look at in the Binoculars were Townsend's,and since it was a few weeks earlier than I would expect to see them,I started photographing them for eBird documentation.When I looked at the photo of the bird in question later that day,I though,thats very pale bellied for a Townsend's, and thought it looked like a possible Hermit,but was unsure as I am unfamiliar with that species. After I got home I posted it on eBird as a Townsend's,but got several e-mails telling me it was a Hermit. So I reviewed the photos and my Sibley,and I agree, a Townsend's should have black streaking on the flanks that this bird lacks,and the breast should be bright yellow,unlike this bird. Bird appears to be a near perfect match for Sibley's illustration of an adult female Hermit.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Heard faint chip notes of warblers,not sure which species
Behavior: Feeding in conifers,often high in the canopy. Very active
Habitat: Mixed sub-alpine forest of Englemann Spruce,Sub-alpine Fir,Douglas Fir,Aspen,Limber Pine and Bristle-cone Pine. On the rim of a flat topped 10,000ft plateau,near the eastern escarpment
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Townsend's Warbler should have black streaking on the flanks that this bird lacks,and the breast should be bright yellow,unlike this birds. No other warbler should have the combination of a yellow head,black throat,wing bars and a whitish belly. There is the possibility of it being a hybrid Hermit X Townsend's,although according to the field guides hybrids should have some flank streaking that this bird lacks. The only pro hybird feature I can see is a faint yellow ting to the belly,although at least some immature Hermits can show that. As I am unfamiliar with this species,I will let the committee decide if it is a hybrid or pure Hermit,either way it is a note worthy bird.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
References consulted: Sibley Guide to Birds of North America, D.A. Sibley 2000,iBird Pro, Audubon Bird Guide app.
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South #105 SLC,UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none
Date prepared: 08-10-2013
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: Will send photos to the webmaster