• Hooded Warbler

    Common NameHooded Warbler
    Scientific NameWilsonia Citrina
    Type of ReportRare Nesting Species
    Date of Observation07/31/2017
    Number Observed2
    Reporting Observer's NameAlison Wagner
    Mailing Address111 Highland Drive
    P.O.Box 123
    Huntington, VT 05462
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed08/05/2017
    Names & Emails of Other Contributing Observers

    Jennifer Megyesi

    Latitude of Observation44.3418058N
    Longitude of Observation73.1236159W
    Place NameGeprag Communtiy Park
    TownshipHinesburg
    CountyChittenden
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day12:05 PM
    Length of Time Observed3 minutes (adult feeding fledgling)
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)6 fledgling/ 30 adult
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)3 fledgling/ 6 adult
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Hot, sunny and calm

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Saw bird well at first without binoculars; then used Swarovskis

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    I had observed the male HOWA on July 16 and 17 carrying food to one area west of the habitats described below (for this report of July 31). On these days, the male was observed many times carrying food to the area where the nest was assumed to be hidden. He would fly to a branch about 10 feet off the ground and perch for a few minutes before disappearing in thick, low vegetation. He would then fly off. This would be repeated, with the bird returning to the same tree branches and disappearing into the same area where the nest is assumed to have been. Occasionally he would perch up higher and sing a couple of stanzas of the type A1 (as described in The Warbler Guide).While perched, he would splay his tail feathers. When he flew out of the area, we often observed loud and clear chip notes.
    I am familiar with this species having seen an adult male in Southern Vermont and also Central America, but had never seen a fledgling before.

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    (1)The adult HOWA was first observed in a mature deciduous forest about 50 feet east from the area the bird was assumed to be nesting (in previous days). This forested area has minimal understory and is connected to the largest part of contiguous forest. Compared to other areas the HOWA was seen in, it is quite open below the canopy. (2) The other area the 2 birds were observed in is sandwiched between the (1) area and about 30 feet east of the assumed nesting area. The habitat of this second area consists of fewer mature deciduous trees, a dense understory, and is bordered by sumacs and a small opening with berries and goldenrod. Other birds seen in these areas were American Redstart, Gray Catbird, Northern Cardinal.

    Behaviors Observed

    In the open deciduous area (1), we heard loud/bold/clear chips from two birds. We believed these birds were communicating, as one bird would chip, followed immediately by a second bird. The second bird's chips were not as loud but otherwise similar in character. Next we observed the male HOWA, flying and hopping, (and we assumed foraging) midlevel across horizontal branches. Then we believe the HOWA was chased out of this area by an American Redstart, which seemed to be pursuing the warbler. The adult HOWA flew in the direction of the nesting area but we lost track of the bird. Later, in the second habitat area described, we observed the fledgling hopping on a Lonicera bush (identified by Jenn Megyesi). It seemed "young," not too sure-footed or balanced. Jenn commented that she thought it could "barely fly." It hopped a few feet away from us, giving us a good look at its profile. She then observed the fledgling rubbing its bill on a branch,the adult male flying it to feed it., and then flew off. I was not able to see these things from my vantage point.

    Description of Vocalizations

    On the 31st, I did not hear any begging sounds prior to the adult feeding the fledgling, but after the adult returned to the high branches of a tree about thirty feet away, he sang twice, again the A1 song.

    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    Jenn and I both heard the chips notes of two birds before seeing the male HOWA in the mature deciduous forest, foraging along the horizontal branches. The HOWA left this habitat within a few minutes. It flew in the direction where we later saw the fledgling, but at this point, we lost track of it. We went to the area where the birds had been presumed nesting, but did not find it. We went back to the first place we’d seen the adult male and by chance while walking under the Lonicera bush, we noticed a slight movement over our heads. The bird appeared unsteady, as it hopped across the thick vegetation of the bush. We quickly moved from directly under the bush to the side, about 3 feet away, for a better viewing angle. The fledgling hopped away and across the vegetation granting us a good look at it face, wing, belly, and especially the tail. Finally, Jenn said out loud that she saw the fledgling rub its bill on the bush stem and then saw the adult male feed it. I was obscured from this view. The birds then disappeared back into the thick cover. Within a minute, the adult was perched high in the canopy, singing two stanzas of the A1 song.

    Relative Size & Shape

    I am only describing the fledgling as there is much evidence from other birders' photographs to support the presence of the adult male HOWA. The fledgling was plump and small, warbler size. Jenn and I both agreed that it appeared to have recently fledged. It still had remnants of natal down on its body and head.

    Head

    I did not see the crown, throat, or nape. No supercillium, eye stripe or eye ring. The eye was dark. The face of the bird was overall drab. It was light, not white or gray, but rather dingy. It had the slightest suggestion of a cheek patch, best described as light tan compared to the rest of the face. It seemed to be transitioning still from its natal down stage.

    Feet & Bill

    I did not see the feet or legs. The bill looked big for a warbler, as a HOWA bill typically does.

    Upper Back

    Did not observe

    Lower Back & Rump

    Did not observe

    Wings

    Wings looked "fresh," more grayish brown than "olive." One overall color, no wing bars.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    The fledgling was above us, so we had a good view of the underside of the bird (belly, flanks, under tail coverts) which looked overall dingy, similar to the face;
    not white or yellow. The belly was plump, with remnants of down still.
    Jenn and I both thought there might have been a hint of ever-so-slight streaking on the belly, but could not be sure.

    Tail

    The tail was the most diagnostic field mark. The fledgling splayed its tail to reveal a pattern similar to the adult HOWA: predominately white, including the outer tail feathers; with some hints of black. It looked a little short, but this was because it had not fully emerged from the shafts yet.

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Jenn and I knew that this was a fledgling we had never seen before. The field marks of its tail was very convincing that it is a HOWA. If a Cowbird had been incubated in the HOWA nest, there was no sign of one when we made our observations.

    Other Notes & Comments

    Ian Worley suggested the HOWA may have bred with a Yellow Warbler. What I don't know is 1) how likely is that and 2) how different would the field marks of the fledgling be if it was a cross. This is the only other possibility I can imagine.

    This report was written from notes taken:Immediately After

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