(Click on the photo for a larger image.)
Philadelphia Vireo (PHVI) sightings raise interest due to the relative scarcity of valid reports in the north New Jersey region. There are yellowish Warbling Vireos this time of year as well as warblers of a similar appearance that can add to the identification confusion. The PHVI reported from Glenhurst Meadows this morning (Marc Chelemer and Robert Gallucci) is supported by Rob Gallucci’s photograph which displays enough field marks for a solid identification.
Other species reported at Glenhurst today include Black-and-white Warbler, 2 Nashville Warblers (with photograph), Common Yellowthroat, American Redstarts, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler. Two Red-headed Woodpeckers were near the river. 6 Least Sandpipers, 3 Solitary Sandpipers and 1 Killdeer were also present.
Least Sandpipers are the expected peep at Glenhurst Meadows and throughout the mocosocoBirds region. Every year there are erroneous reports of Semipalmated Sandpipers at Glenhurst and other local birding sites – a checklist reporting Semipalmated Sandpipers and zero Least Sandpipers is a red flag. Please be careful in identifying small shorebirds. If it is a peep in Morris and Somerset Counties it is probably a Least Sandpiper. Semipalmated Sandpipers are uncommon in Somerset and almost rare in Morris.
The above photograph is of an Empidonax flycatcher seen this morning at Timberbrook Lake in Rockaway Township. The bird has a yellow cast over its entire body. It is smaller than a Red-eyed Vireo which was nearby. This eliminates Acadian and any other eastern empid except Least (LEFL) and Yellow-bellied (YBFL). The yellowish eye-ring strongly favors YBFL as does the overall greenish back and green-olive flanks (not clearly visible in the photo). The primary projection and shape of the wing tips suggest YBFL as described and critically compared with other species of the Empidonax complex in the American Birding Association article, Identifying Empinonax Flycatchers: The Ratio Approach by Forest Rowland , published in the March 2009 issue of Birding and available as a PDF online.
To quote the article: “If the tips of the primaries appear wide and rounded, they are likely short, as in Least and Dusky Flycatchers. If the primaries appear more tapered and pointed, that corresponds to a medium or long primary projection as seen in Yellow-bellied and “Traill’s” Flycatchers. And if the primaries appear slightly bowed or sword-shaped, as in Acadian and Hammond’s Flycatchers, that indicates especially long primary projection.”
The pictured Empid shows tapered wing tips. If the reader is unsure of the distinction between rounded and tapered wingtips, visit Vireo and look at Least Flycatcher photos to see the rounded tips illustrated.