33-B-2017 Hermit Warbler

STATUS
Accepted
DATE VOTING COMPLETED
1ST ROUND
7-0
HOW MANY OBSERVED?
1 hatch-year bird
DATE SIGHTING OCCURRED
DATE REPORT PREPARED
REPORTER
Austin Young
OTHER OBSERVERS
None
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
I observed the bird in Lake Walcott State Park in the southern portion of the park on the eastern part of the circle looped road. Specifically at: 42.6717, -113.4809.
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
The bird was observed in open park habitat that consisted of spaced-out deciduous trees, mixed with some conifer, with a short, green grass lawn.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
I observed the bird for several minutes before I lost it in the shuffle of foraging wood-warblers. It was about 10 meters away almost even with my eyes (slightly higher). The sun was behind me, there was a soft breeze, and minimal cloud cover.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
Yes, later the same day
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, later the same day
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
The Warbler Guide (2013) by Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
It was a small warbler with a small bill.
Copied from Ebird notes:
A warbler with an olive colored crown and back (which lacks noticeable streaking), a thin olive ear patch, and a clean throat with some yellow. No dark streaking or yellow on the flanks.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
I observed the bird foraging in the mid-and lower portions of a deciduous tree. It spent more time (10-15 seconds more) working the seed clumps as opposed to the rest of the tree. I also observed it briefly "flycatching" for insects. It did not vocalize. I did not confirm any interactions with other species, however soon after I lost the bird I observed a Townsend's Warbler chasing off a similar-sized warbler of which I wasn't able to identify.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
I identified the bird as a potential Hermit Warbler as soon as I saw the Townsend's Warbler-like plumage pattern with the lack of streaking on the flanks and the paler face.
The combo of the paler face, unstreaked back, unstreaked flanks, and defined/limited yellow on the throat all clinched the identification for me.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
The similar Townsend's Warbler was ruled out by the Hermit Warbler's paler face, unstreaked back, limited/defined yellow on the throat, and unstreaked flanks.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
My experience with Townsend's Warblers is very extensive, I have observed many individuals of all ages. However, this is my first Hermit Warbler in person. I have seen many illustrations and photos and listened to a number of sound recordings of Hermit Warblers.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
Extensive, I have been avidly birding for the last 10 years, especially in the Intermountain West.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
Photo
SUPPORTING IMAGES

FIRST ROUND VOTING:

Cliff Weisse
Accept

Description and photos support the identification of Hermit Warbler.

Shirley Sturts
Accept

The combination of field marks and photos confirm the identification

Carl Lundblad
Accept

Well documented with written details and photos. The description/discussion doesn't explicitly consider TOWA hybids, but effectively rules one out (as do the photos) through the lack of TOWA traits typically found on hybrids.

Jay Carlisle
Accept

I would have liked to have seen consideration of a potential hybrid but photos seem to show a pure looking Hermit

Dave Trochlell
Accept

This does look like a female Hermit Warbler with no obvious indications of hybridization.

Darren Clark
Accept

description and photo are good

Doug Ward
Accept

A decent description provided which focused on the primary field marks (plain back & flanks, pale throat & face) separating from a potential Townsend’s Warbler (Setophaga townsendii), or other “black-throated” warbler species for that matter. Fairly diagnostic photos helped seal the “accept” vote in this round – good bird!