Western Orange-crowned warbler in Mammoth

Observers: Donna Willey
Email: basina@verizon.net
Date: 08/20/2007
Time: 11:40 PM -0400

This beautiful little warbler is called the orange-crowned warbler (western version as opposed to the eastern orange-crowned). Orange crowned warblers are definitely found in the Sierras both sides of the crest. Peterson’s field guide states that this warbler is far more abundant in the West than in the East. They describe the OCWA as a rather obscurely marked warbler and one that varies from “drab olive-gray to olive-yellow showing some indistinct streaking upon its’ underparts” or breast. In my photos one can see the streaking on the breast. As for the orange-crown it is seldom seen. However, one of my photos does show the orange crown as the tiny warbler was bathing under my sprinkler and she shook her head and though this made the shot a blur one can see the blurry remnants of an orange splotch on the top of her head. There are different races and as Chris pointed out to me this one is the west coast subspecies, lutescens which has the brightest upperpart coloring, the dullest being found in nominate celata. But all of this can be found in Peterson’s FG on warblers. In this little guy I love the split eye-ring that one can see so plainly in the photos. The FG says there is little seasonal change in plumage and that males are slightly brighter than females and have a larger orange patch (usually concealed) on the crown. The species that are the most similar to the West coast lutescens are Wilson’s, Yellow and Macgillivray’s warblers. Fall migration with this warbler is protracted with a peak in late August and September. This little warbler dropped into my yard for a dip in my sprinkler. I have no lawn, my place is in Mammoth at 8200’ the yard is filled with aspen and native plants and watering is done by hand, frequently. The yard is filled with birds and I was just lucky to be outside at the time with my camera when this little beauty dropped by for a leisurely dip in the water.