16-B-2017 Hermit Warbler

STATUS
Accepted
DATE VOTING COMPLETED
1ST ROUND
7-0
HOW MANY OBSERVED?
One female. Expert on Idaho Birding on Facebook determined it to be one year old.
DATE SIGHTING OCCURRED
DATE REPORT PREPARED
REPORTER
Marya Moosman
OTHER OBSERVERS
I, Marya Moosman, found the bird on May 25, 2017. Cheryl Huizinga, Steve Butterworth and Pat Weber saw it on May 27. Also Kirk Geisler.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
Camas NWR (sorry, I would have a really hard time trying to explain exactly where it was)
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Wind break trees, don't know what kind of trees.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
I followed the bird around for probably twenty minutes trying to get a good picture of it. Weather was nice, probably mid 70's, no wind. I got as close as fifteen feet from the bird. It didn't seem very concerned about me. I use Nikon Monarch 8X42 binoculars and a Canon SX50HS camera.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
No, not at all
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, during the observation
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
Peterson Field Guides, Western Birds - Roger Tory Peterson - 1990
Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America - Donald and Lillian Stokes - 2010
Also several sources on the Internet
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Warbler family - Why? It looks like one. :)

First noticed the yellow face with very little markings. It had a whitish front, dark gray back and two white wing bars.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
It was flitting all over through the trees, I'm assuming looking for food. It didn't really do anything else and did not vocalize.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
After getting home and checking various sources I was pretty sure it was a female Hermit Warbler from my own observations. Nothing else fit as well. I then posted pictures on Idaho Birding on Facebook and there was quite a discussion there and on Idaho Bird Sightings and Discussions. After comments from more skilled birders than I (Darren Clark, Austin Young, Heidi Ware and Jay Carlisle), I didn't have a problem reporting it as a female Hermit Warbler.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
Did not have olive green crown and back of Black-throated Green Warbler, no distinct black markings in the yellow as in Golden-cheeked Warbler.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
None, it was a lifer for me. No experience with the other similar species either.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
I've been birding for nine years. I'm certainly no expert but can find my way around a bird book and Internet sites. I will never submit a sighting for a bird unless I am very, very sure of what it is.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
Cheryl Huizinga told me that Darren Clark has good photos that he can add. Mine really aren't that great but were good enough for others to help me make the identification.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
Photo
SUPPORTING IMAGES

FIRST ROUND VOTING:

Cliff Weisse
Accept

Description and photos support identification of Hermit Warbler.

Carl Lundblad
Accept

Photos seem to be diagnostic of a Hermit Warbler. An ideal submission of a Hermit Warbler would probably consider a Townsend's X Hermit hybrid, but I think we can see enough in the photos to rule that out. The mantle looks dull gray-brown (not at all green) with only minimal streaking, the flanks are essentially unstreaked, and the auricular patch is slight. Nice find and well-documented.

Shirley Sturts
Accept

well documented with excellent photos

Jay Carlisle
Accept

diagnostic pics and other possibilities considered well

Dave Trochlell
Accept

I'm convinced that this was a female Hermit Warbler, but why weren't Darren's better photos of this bird included here, since they're referenced in the report?

Darren Clark
Accept

Photos are good.

Doug Ward
Accept

Very interesting bird. Had this been in the core if its home range, would have no problem calling it a young female Hermit Warbler (Setophaga occidentalis) based on the photos provided. However, given its vagrancy, the lack of black on its throat/chest (thus a young bird) this time of year, need to consider the possibility of hybrid origin, particularly with the common Townsend’s Warbler (S. townsendii).

While the observer does not give a detailed description, their discussion does help add context to the excellent photos. I do think this bird is likely a pure Hermit considering the relatively plain face without any sharp demarcation on any portion of the auricular patch, no break in the yellow eye ring, and lack of any distinct streaks on its flanks, all traits I would expect to be compromised in a Hermit X Townsend’s hybrid. However, the crown and back do show a hint of green, and the lores seem somewhat dark for this species, so there is room for other genetic influence. Conclusion, I believe this is a good Hermit Warbler, but may be swayed after reading any dissenting comments should this go to the next round of voting.