Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2023-79

Common name:

Tennessee Warbler

Scientific name: Leiothlypis peregrina
Date: 16 Sep 2023
Time: 1:30 pm
Length of time observed: Observed: Several short glimpses amounting to about 30-45 seconds total
Number: 1
Age: unknown
Sex: unknown
Location: Airport Rd / CR 537, Manila area, UT
County: Daggett
Latilong: 40.99105, -109.65761
Elevation: approx. 6080'
Distance to bird: As close as 12 feet.
Optical equipment: Leica 10x40 binoculars
Weather: Sunny, very pleasant
Light Conditions: Very good on the outside of the thickets, but obviously mottle on the inside of the thickets. Luckily, the bird perched in the "open" (i.e., opening in the bush) in full sun a couple of times.
Description:        Size of bird: Small wood-warbler
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Passerine (warbler), but fairly short tail
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Pale below with bright yellow wash to breast, olivy back/folded wings, gray cap
(Description:)            Bill Type: Thin and pointed
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Odd plumage, a bit between what is usually shown for male-female & breeding-nonbreeding. Watched it on-off for several minutes. Surprisingly different than the Orange-crowned warblers near it.
-- clear pale (whitish) eyeline, created by a black eyeline on a pale face
-- gray cap as if on a male
-- olivey back
-- whitish throat
-- pale but bright yellow wash to breast
-- whitish below on mid breast to belly and undertail coverts (as shown for breeding female in Natl Geo field guide) despite it being the fall, when I'd expect more yellow. Yellow wash to flanks near legs/vent really made the undertail white stand out. In my crappy photo, the undertail looks a bit yellower because of the light filtering through the leaves, but the strongly contrasting white was noticed by both of us when the bird was in better light on exposed perches.
-- sharp bill even by warbler standards
-- very short tail for a warbler (undertail coverts extended for much of its length)
-- no obvious wing bars
-- chip was fairly delicate/sweet
-- busily gleaning in small Russian olives

Note: I am not 100% sure my crappy photo was of the Tennessee warbler, as there were one or two Orange-crowned warblers in the same Russian Olive at the time, but I think it probably is because the undertail coverts extend so close to the tail tip.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: silent
Behavior: Gleaning at about eye level in Russian olives along a quiet roadside. Skulky.
Habitat: Russian olives along a quiet roadside surrounded by open grass fields.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
By far the closest species to a Tennessee is an Orange-crowned warbler. Luckily, there were several of those around for direct comparison. Relative to that species, this bird had a strikingly shorter tail and contrastingly white undertail coverts/vent. Also this bird had a clear pale (whitish) eyeline, created by a black eyeline on a pale face.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Limited other than reviewing the records of other birders while serving on the Records Committee. According to eBird, I'd identified this bird 30 times in my life, mostly in Mexico and Central America (therefore mostly non-breeding individuals).
References consulted: National Geographic and Sibley field guides.
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: David S. Wheeler
Observer's address: 2196 S 1000 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Lauri Taylor
Date prepared: 18 Nov 2023
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: