Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2002-40b

Common name:

Philadelphia Vireo

Scientific name: Vireo Philadelphicus
Date: 10/27/02
Time: 09:30
Length of time observed: 09:30-11:30
Number: 1
Location: Red Hills Golf Course, St. George
County: Washington
Distance to bird: 10 - 60 feet
Optical equipment: 10x42 Bausch and Lomb Elites
Weather: Mostly sunny and calm
Light Conditions: Very good
Detailed description of bird: THE HEAD
The crown was dark gray. There was a whitish supercilium of about even width from the supraloral area to behind the eye. It had a dark eye line that extended into the lores. There was a indistinct whitish arc under the eye. The auricular and the sub-moustachial area was a greenish gray color that blended into a very bright yellow
throat. The throat appeared to be the brightest yellow in the center. The eyes were dark. The bill looked to be a dark blue gray color and somewhat short with a slight hook to the tip. It was thicker and less pointed than a Warblers bill.
>From the nape down the back it was a greenish gray color that contrasted with the darker crown. I didn't see the uppertail coverts. The upper side of the tail appeared to be dark olive green.
The scapulars, the lesser, median and the greater coverts were greenish gray; similar to the color of the back. The tips of the greater coverts were a dull gray that formed a faint wing bar. The primary coverts were a dark olive green. The edges of the primaries and the secondaries on the folded wing were a greenish gray. The tertials and the primaries beyond the tertials were a dark olive green.
The breast was very bright yellow with the brightest yellow being in the center. The sides and the flanks were yellow, but not as bright as the breast. The belly was whitish yellow. The undertail coverts were also very bright yellow. The under side of the tail was dark. The legs were a pale blue gray color.
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: It first came into my pishing from a large willow tree and landed in the top of a mesquite tree that was below where I was standing. The bird was within 10 to 15 feet of me. It just sat there curiously looking around for about 30 seconds or so. Then it began gleaning insects. I watched it in that area for about 5 minutes. It then flew into some large willow trees along a small riparian area at the in flow of a pond. I watched it feeding in this area from the mid to the upper levels for  about another 5 minutes or so. Later when Rick and Kristen arrived we were able to relocate it in the mid levels of some willows near the same location. We watched it feeding in there for a few minutes; it then flew out into a tall cottonwood tree. We watched it for about 1 hour or so as it fed in several tall cottonwoods in the area. It stayed mostly near the
tops of the trees. It was being quite active for a Vireo, but it would
stop at times and sit still.
Habitat: Willow and Russian olive trees with other thick understory along a small riparian corridor. Tall cottonwoods around a golf course along with mesquite and desert scrub.
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
The only real confusion species is the Warbling Vireo. However,I think with good views of a bright well marked Philadelphia Vireo this species can be eliminated. Some fall Warbling Vireos can be very yellow below; but they are the brightest on the sides and the flanks. They should also have pale lores. Superficially Tennessees and Orange-crowned warblers are also somewhat similar. However Tennessees white undertail coverts and Orange-crowneds lack of any strong facial features, plus they both are much more active and have thin pointed bills. Red-eyed Vireo can easily be eliminated, due to it having black above and below the supercilium, its large bill and the white throat and breast. Yellow-green Vireo has a much larger bill and the bright yellow is on the sides and flanks, not the throat and the center of the breast.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I have spent time studying several fall Philadelphia Vireos in So. California. I have also watched many very bright fall Warbling Vireos. Some that I had to look at very closely to get the views that I wanted because they can be very similar. I have seen several Tennesse Warblers in fall and spring in So. California and Florida. I have watched numerious Orange-crowned Warblers all over the West. I have seen several fall Red-eyed Vireos in So. California and also in Florida.
References consulted: None at the time of the sighting.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Larry Tripp
Observer's address: 332 Wells Fargo RD. Brookside, Utah 84782
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Rick Fridell and Kristen Comella
Rick was also able to get some photos.
Date prepared: 12/20/02  (General Public)
Additional material:  
Additional comments: The dark crown and the dark eye line into the lores made the supercilium really stand out. Combined with the bright yellow throat made more of a contrasting head pattern that a Warbling Vireo shows. In my opinion the structure of a Philadelphia is slightly different than a Warbling. Philadelphias rounder looking head and slightly shorter tail give it a more compact look. When the bird first flew into the tops of the mesquite trees that were at the base of a small cliff that I was standing on, the bird was just below the level of my feet. I had very good close views of the head, throat,breast and the upper parts. This was a very bright and well marked bird. I didn't have any question that the bird I saw was a Philadelphia Vireo.