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Is this a pure Hermit warbler, or a hermit x Townsend’s? Some strange facial pattern here and some light streaking on the sides making me think hybrid but I can’t find a photo that looks like this of a hybrid. 
 

Seen today, Orange County, Ca. My only photo. 
Thanks!

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6 minutes ago, Jodi Nielson said:

Is this not a Black-throated Green Warbler?  Probably wrong, but it was the first thing I thought of...

Not in CA. Also, if it were a vagrant, it wouldn’t have yellow on the throat. 

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Posted (edited)

I want to say a hybrid is quite possible. Looking at recent sightings in Orange County, a male was sighted two weeks ago at Huntington Beach Central Park: https://ebird.org/checklist/S107800655

Expanding the range slightly, another male was seen two days ago at Lake O'Neill: https://ebird.org/checklist/S108861216

Sibley's guide states the following (p. 493 of the 2nd edition of the full US).

Quote

Hermit and Townsend's Warblers hybridize commonly where their range overlaps in Washington and Oregon, but hybrids are rarely identified elsewhere. [...] the features of the two species can be combined in many ways. Hybrids generally have face and head pattern closer to Hermit, breast and flank pattern closer to Townsend's. Female and first-winter male hybrids can closely resemble Black-throated Green Warbler [...]

Edited by Zoroark
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Posted (edited)

Considering that the only thing off on this bird is the apparent darkness on the auricular, I think it is probably tough to call it a hybrid especially considering it is in shadow. The breast doesn't seem to have much yellow on it. The scapulars aren't streaky greenish at all, and the sides are classic hermit warbler imo. 

Edit: I do think your instincts are good and it is surprisingly dark in the malar area as well, just I am not seeing any examples of birds called hybrids that did't have more features intermediate. 

Edited by Sam Eberhard
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44 minutes ago, Sam Eberhard said:

Edit: I do think your instincts are good and it is surprisingly dark in the malar area as well, just I am not seeing any examples of birds called hybrids that did't have more features intermediate. 

This! I know it doesn’t look like a pure bird, but it doesn’t look like a hybrid either. I’m not sure what to think of it! I might send it to my reviewer tomorrow.

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7 hours ago, IKLland said:

I really don’t want to go down the road of hoping it’s a rarity, but how did we rule out blacks throated green based on plumage? 

Didn't you already do that?

13 hours ago, IKLland said:

Not in CA. Also, if it were a vagrant, it wouldn’t have yellow on the throat. 

 

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Your bird is not a BNTW. Look at the mantle, to start. Facial pattern is wrong as well, and there is not enough streaking on the sides of the breast. 

It’s either a pure female HEWA or a HEWA x TOWA. The photo isn’t great, but I’m leaning towards it’s a enough of a HEWA to call it one. 

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9 minutes ago, DLecy said:

Your bird is not a BNTW. Look at the mantle, to start. Facial pattern is wrong as well, and there is not enough streaking on the sides of the breast. 

It’s either a pure female HEWA or a HEWA x TOWA. The photo isn’t great, but I’m leaning towards it’s a enough of a HEWA to call it one. 

Yeah, thanks. Thats exactly what I think. Definitely not a pure TOWA. It just appears to have a very odd facial pattern for a pure HEWA IMO. Also that strange dark area on the bottom of the throat. What's that?  

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9 minutes ago, IKLland said:

Also that strange dark area on the bottom of the throat. What's that?  

That is within range of female HEWA. Look at the Macaulay Library and you can find examples of it.

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3 hours ago, DLecy said:

That is within range of female HEWA. Look at the Macaulay Library and you can find examples of it.

Here one! This is labeled as immature female, a very similar bird to mine. 
https://macaulaylibrary.org

So, is there anything you would consider a feature that could possibly indicate hybrid on my bird? Or is it safe to call it HEWA?

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