33-B-2018 Philadelphia Vireo

STATUS
Pending
HOW MANY OBSERVED?
1
DATE SIGHTING OCCURRED
DATE REPORT PREPARED
REPORTER
Jonathan Barnett
OTHER OBSERVERS
Self-observed. Was in nearby rock garden area (mainly crabapple tree) right outside my office window.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
At home property – 22 Family Place, Horseshoe Bend, ID 83629
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
In crabapple tree, and surrounding bushes
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
It was early evening (around 5:30pm), and I watched the bird for about 15 minutes. I initially used my Bushnell 7x26 Custom Compact binoculars, and then tracked the bird with my Nikon Coolpix P900, which is what I got a few pics with. The bird was moving almost continuously, so photograph conditions weren’t ideal for really capturing what I was able to observe in real time.
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
Yes, I consulted the Sibley Guide to Birds to compare vireos, and then the iBird Plus app. Later, I went online and searched through internet pictures of both the Philadelphia Vireo and Warbling Vireo to double-check my observations.
The copyright on my Sibley (by David Allen Sibley) is from 2000. My iBird Plus app is kept updated by Mitch Waite Group, and my current version is 10.06.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
I could tell right away that this bird was part of the Vireo family. The first thing that stood out to me was the slate-gray cap that was distinctly separate from the back color. My first thought was a Red-eyed Vireo because of the dark cap and the black eye line – I had one in that same tree two months ago (July). But as I watched the bird, I realized its profile wasn’t elongated (head and body) like the Red-eyed Vireo, the bill seemed smaller to me, and it didn’t have an ‘eye stripe’, but rather was like a crescent moon above and below the eye. So, that is when I pulled out the field guide and started looking for other options. The bird had no wingbars, but I also checked warblers just in case, to make sure I wasn’t missing anything (although the bird struck me as a vireo, not a warbler, from the get-go). So, then my searching in the guide turned to an in-depth comparison of the vireos. This bird had a lighter throat, with yellow on its chest, flanks and vent. The black eye stripe was pronounced, but not as pronounced as I am used to with the Red-eyed Vireo. But the eye stripe extended in front of its eye. Also, it had a darkish wing-lining right on the edge. So, on page 340 was a comparison of all the vireos, and on page 344 was a side-by-side of variations of the Philadelphia Vireo and Warbling Vireo. In both cases, pictures of the Philadelphia Vireo looked exactly like what I was watching, whereas the Warbling Vireo has a fainter eye line that doesn’t extend to the front of the eye, and there is no noticeable color change between the head and back. (Later, I went to the Internet and looked up all the pictures I could find of the two species, and I couldn’t find a single Warbling Vireo picture that looked like this bird.)
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
Flitting from branch to branch feeding. The only other birds around that evening were American Robins and American Goldfinches.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
I felt I positively identified the bird before I sent the note to IBLE. The main reasons were the slate-gray cap distinguished from the greenish back, and black eye line with pronounced ‘crescent moon’ eye surroundings. After it was challenged by another birder with field mark questions/comments, I went to my pictures for reinforcement. The darker wing lining was apparent in the pic, and the contrast between head and back was apparent. The lighting for the pictures wasn’t ideal, but I felt the key field marks were still evident, including the non-subtle black line extending in front of the eye.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
Already explained above for the Red-eyed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, and warblers.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
I’m familiar with both the Red-eyed Vireo and the Warbling Vireo. I’ve birded in Idaho for 42 years. I’m not very familiar at all with the Philadelphia Vireo. Which is why the bird struck me right away as something different, when I got on it with my binocs.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
42 years. I have a good eye for details, and a photographic memory. I recently went on a bird tour with the top birder in Colombia, and corrected him (accurately) on several occasions, just because I had visually researched & studied the birds before going on the trip, and had good recall – it’s something that has benefitted me all these years.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
Did You Take Notes…
In my message to the IBLE group and eBird.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
Photo
SUPPORTING IMAGES