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Documentation of Orange-crowned Warbler

Observer Information

Reporter:  Steven Mlodinow 
Other Observers:  none;

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Orange-crowned Warbler
First Date/Time:  10/3/2011
Last Date/Time: 
Duration (total time in view):  see description
County:  Yuma
Specific Location:  Bonny Reservoir, Foster Campground
Number:  1
Age:  Unknown
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Other/Unknown


Viewing Conditions

Distance:  see description
Light:  good; both bright direct sun and bright shade with bird at about eye level

Description of the Bird

About an hour after sunrise, I was pishing at some low bushes. Several towhees and many sparrows had popped up. Among that collection, the appearance of a bright yellow bird startled me. Realizing that this was an unusually bright Orange-crowned Warbler, I snapped my camera up and began taking photos. After 30 seconds or so, the bird dropped down, I put down my camera, and resumed pishing. The bird reappeared much closer, at about 15-20 feet, in bright shade, where I was able to study it through Swarovski EL 10x42 bins for about 1 minute.

Size and shape essentially same as “normal” Colorado Orange-crowned Warblers. Entire bird looked bright yellow-green, more olive below, more yellow below. The upper parts were fairly evenly colored. The folded wings were similarly colored to the back and lacked wing-bars. The underparts were brightest (clearest yellow) on throat and undertail coverts. The flanks had more green mixed in and vague olive streaking was present on chest, mostly on the sides of the chest. The face showed a dusky eyeline, mostly limited to lores; a hint of eyeline was visible behind eye. The supercilium was bright yellow, mostly anterior to eye and fading out rapidly behind eye. A bright yellow broken eyering was also evident. The auriculars were olive yellow, not clear yellow like the throat. Bill and leg color not noted.
Behaviors: see description
Call: not heard
Plumage: uncertain

Similar Species Discussion

This bird was typical for fall Lutescent OCWA as seen in western Washington. This bird differed greatly from the vast majority of “gray” Orange-crowneds that I’ve seen in Colorado (and when I lived in Illinois). Though some OCWAs during fall in CO have quite bright underparts, orestera (and celata) seem to always show some gray on head, particularly on the auriculars. Also, a bright yellow eyering on a fall OCWA seems to be pretty indicative of lutescens (ignoring the Channel Island race).

Of note, OCWAs, from October through January in Baja’s Cape District, fall pretty well into two groups: green and gray types. By March, I have far more trouble separating the two (or rather, a fair number of birds seem to fall in between), and I think Orange-crowneds in fall are more easily ascribable to subspecies than spring birds.

Resources Used


Previous Experience

Extensive; an area of particular interest, causing much frustration at times.


Notes made AFTER observation

Additional Information

Comments: Both Bill Tweit and Brad Waggoner, members of the WA BRC feel this bird is typical for Lutescent Warbler.
Time: see description
Other Dates:
Nearest Town: Hale
Independent Observers:

Date Documentation Submitted

10/26/2011 7:01:00 AM

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Location Map

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