Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2002-31

Common name:

Worm-eating Warbler

Scientific name: Helmitheros vermivorus
Date: 09-28-02
Time: 0945-1300
Length of time observed: Observed: one hour +
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Location: Riparian area along Quail Creek, Red Cliffs Campground
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Elevation: 3200
Distance to bird: 2-20 m
Optical equipment: 10x42 binoculars
Weather: partly overcast with intermittent rain showers
Light Conditions: overcast mid-day light
Detailed description of bird: Large, stocky warbler with boldly striped head. Appeared to have bright, fresh plumage. Underparts rich buffy orange, paler under tail increasing to a bright orange buff on breast and throat. Bright olive green back, wings, rump, and upperside of tail. Tail relatively short and deeply notched. Underside of tail uniform olive green. Head with alternating black and buffy orange stripes (long black eyestripes, buffy superciliums, black lateral crown stripes, buffy central crown stripe). Eye black. Legs fleshy pink. Very long, stout, and sharp bill with pale lower mandible and black culmen. [see photos]
Song or call & method of delivery: Mostly silent, regularly gave a soft double note (ssst-ssst) call in flight.
Behavior: Foraging throughout the riparian area, from ground to top of cottonwoods (mostly at 5-10 m level). Very active, regularly foraging in clusters of dead leaves. Observed eating catepillars, flies, and a single wasp and spider. Often would fold wings and drop from high in ash or cottonwood to ground or low shrub.
Habitat: Along small flowing creek, with full overstory (Cottonwood, Velvet Ash, Box Elder) and dense shrubby understory (Baccharis, willow, rabbitbrush etc.)
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
This warbler is rather unique and easily identifiable. Boldly striped crown distinguishes it from slightly similar Swainson's Warbler.
Previous experience with this & similar species: Most recently, my wife and I observed several of these warblers in their breeding habitat in Georgia and South Carolina (July 2002). I've also seen Worm-eating Warblers a few additional times in the North Carolina mountains.
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Rick Fridell, Kevin Wheeler
Observer's address: 3505 West 290 North Hurricane, UT 84737
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
This warbler was located on a Red Cliffs Audubon field trip and was observed by 10-15 individuals. Also viewed later in the day by Steve and Priscilla Summers, Josh Krietzer and many others.
Date prepared: 10-02-02  General Public
Additional material: [3 Photos ]
Additional comments: Steve Summers also photographed this bird.