Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 201

Common name:

Prothonotary Warbler

Scientific name: Protonotaria citrea
Date: 6/14/2012
Time: 8:10 PM
Length of time observed: ~15 minutes (on and off)
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Male
Location: Fort Buenaventura
County: Weber
Elevation: 4300 ft
Distance to bird: As close as 15 ft.
Optical equipment: Leica 8x50 binoculars
Weather: Sunny, but cottonwood forest was shaded for the entire time
Light Conditions: Shaded
Description:        Size of bird: Slightly larger than a Yellow Warbler
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Warbler
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Yellow with gray wings
(Description:)            Bill Type: Insectivore
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Warbler-sized, slightly larger and bulkier than Yellow Warbler, with bright rich golden-yellow head, back, upper breast and belly, black eye, gray wings; white on underside of tail (not sure I saw top) and under tail coverts with blackish subterminal band on underside; tail slightly emarginated when folded, but not forked. Bill noticeably longer and thicker at base than most warbler species, narrowing to sharp tip.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Song NOT the "sweet-sweet-sweet-I'm-so-sweet" of Yellow Warbler, but a with a ringing quality, rising at the end, ending with a SEEYA. Call note heard on one occasion repeatedly for about 30 sec; call was lower pitched and "thicker" than the rich sharp chip of a Yellow Warbler. Call sounded to me like it was somewhat reminiscent of the "chink" calls produced by a waterthrush.
Behavior: Bird spent a fair amount of time perched out in the open on the end of snags. Not observed to forage, primarily because I had a hard time keeping track of it in the shade. May have been countersinging to a nearby male Yellow Warbler.
Habitat: Cottonwood forest with shrubby understory, along the edges of a clearing and trail; with a pond nearby.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Yellow Warbler has yellow, not gray wings, and male Yellow Warblers have reddish streaks on their breast; this bird had gray wings, and no red streaks, and its bill was larger than that a Yellow Warbler. Also, female Yellow Warblers are neither bright enough. Plumage of the Prothonatary is inconsistent for all other regularly occurring warbler species in Utah. Yellow-breasted Chat was not considered at the time of the sighting, but Yellow-breasted Chat has a thick blackish-grayish bill, blackish lores outlined with white spectacles, and a greenish back; the Prothonatary had none of those features. Yellow-breasted Chat is also a skulker-this bird was not, and perched conspicuously when singing. The chat's song, a series of repeated, and often mimicked phrases also was inconsistent with the song sung by the Prothonatary Warbler. All other warbler species, plus oriole species and tanager species were immediately eliminated on the basis of the Prothonatary's size, vocalizations, and morphology.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have seen and heard singing male Prothonatary Warblers on territory in Virginia and North Carolina in late July 2011; also held one while bird-banding in Fort Morgan, Alabama in September 1997.
References consulted: Looked at Sibley's western guide after seeing the bird in the field to check on coloration of undertail and undertail coverts
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Craig R. Fosdick
Observer's address: PO Box 443, Logan, UT, 84323-0443
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Andrew Durso, Kendal Morris.
Date prepared: 6/16/12
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: This bird was originally found and reported by Kris Purdy on 6/10/12. Field notes were taken at time of sighting and entered into the details field for the eBird checklist and used as the basis of this report. eBird checklist for my observation is here:  Two photos will be mailed as attachments; these photos may be used in support of this record and included in the URBC Archives, but may not be used for any other purpose without my express written consent.