Magnolia Warbler, Fort Lowell Park: 11/06/2009

Morgan Jackson and I biked over to Fort Lowell Park minutes after seeing the report on the listserv! Morgan was the first to relocate this MAGNOLIA WARBLER (seemingly a first-winter bird) found earlier today by Clifford Cathers and Darlene Smyth. Unfortunately, the bird was incredibly difficult to photograph! Fortunately, enough marks are visible in these photos to clinch the identification.

The bird was in "Cottonwood Lane," the double row of cottonwoods running east from Craycroft Road to the ruins of the old fort hospital. We last saw the bird around 2:00 PM.

At first glance from this angle, it already doesn't quite look like the more common Orange-crowned Warblers that one might expect to see in this location; notice the gray head and cheeks with distinct eye ring,and sharp demarcation between the yellow on the throat.

This is how the bird looked to us about 95% of the time... Fortunately, the extensive dark tips to a mostly white tail (as viewed from underneath) are essentially unique to the species. The white undertail coverts, vent, and yellow belly/flanks are visible here. If you squint, you might be able to make out a bit of the dark streaking in the lower flanks.

Finally! A photo with the entire bird. Still, not great quality due to the distance and lighting conditions. Wingbars are visible here, as is the extent of the yellow underparts. Not very visible but still present is a hint of the plain greenish back. Since the bird stayed relatively high in the cottonwoods the entire time, it was very difficult to get a good view of the back and uppertail.

Lastly, though distant and dark, a hint of a grayish neckband can be seen dividing the yellow throat from the rest of the yellow underparts. This neckband was only sometimes visible in the field.

According to the latest edition of "Finding Birds in Southeastern Arizona," there are only about a dozen records of this species from our region!

Good birding,
John Yerger
Tucson, AZ
Senior Guide
Adventure Birding Company


Anonymous said...

Thank you, for the photos and the informative comments with each. They're greatly appreciated by those of us who have so much to learn.

Deanna Mac Phail
Juneau, AK

Matt! and Sarah said...

hey! a comment from Deanna! She's cool. And I totally agree with what she said.

-matt! brooks