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So I was out with the family for our usual weekend walk and picnic dinner. Not really a birding outing but I always bring my binos and if I don't pause too often usually avoid annoying the non birder significant other. I managed with the help of my 4 year old to convince us to visit a place that we used to go quite often but haven't been in a year or so (it is a better birding spot than my wife's current favorite ?)  It had been a pretty good day and I was up over 30 sp - not bad for an hour with plenty of distractions and responsibilities. We were almost back to the car when I spotted something I knew was new. Right there in a tree 30' away, right out in the open, and only 10' off the ground , was a pair of brilliantly colored new birds. I took a good long look through the binos and tried to get a good mental picture in my head.  It was obviously a warbler, and one I knew I had never seen, but since we don't have very many that come through this area and I've only seen a few of those I didn't expect it to be too hard to pick it out of a lineup after the fact. Once we got home and I had a moment I opened the Western US section of Merlin and expected to spot my new lifer - nothing was even close?.  I  ended up spending an hour going through a list of all the warblers for the whole country and could only find one or maybe two that could possibly be what I saw. Magnolia or maybe at a stretch a Blackburnian without the orange were my only possibilities and both are extreme rarities around here. So now I'm left with knowing that I for sure had something rare - 80% certain enough of what I saw to count my own lifer and probably only 50% enough info to convince a reviewer with.? 

Unless someone has something else it could be that I  missed. The marks I am absolutely certain of are that it was yellow nearly all over with some facial markings and what really stood out were entirely dark/black wings with a lot of white over that. Not a wing bar or two but extensive white markings over the top of the dark wings mostly or entirely confined to the 'shoulder' area.

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9 hours ago, The Bird Nuts said:

Swap the binoculars for the camera next time.  I find that binos aren't very helpful when I'm in a situation where I'm trying to identify a bird in between doing something else.

I know but when 95% of what I see is stuff that all I need is a 2 second glance to get an ID but half of it is out of range without optics of some sort I find that binos are so much faster. Guess it's just a trade off I have to make one way or another since packing both isn't really an option most of the time. Especially soon when I'll have a kid in the front pack to contend with too. It's so much easier before they get big enough to bounce while you are trying to track a swallow ?

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23 hours ago, Connor Cochrane said:

My only other suggestions are Evening Grosbeak or Bullock's Oriole. 

I would have called it smaller than both by a bit and I've seen the grosbeaks recently. It doesn't look quite right either but the oriole is within the range of possibilities for the field marks I noted.  It's also more likely for the area. Although I've never seen one here in many years of watching I know people do. If that's the case maybe I have a chance of finding it again at some point.

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22 hours ago, Avery said:

Possibly a Winged Warbler? Check out the hybrid complexes (I know it'd be super rare)

I saw a couple of pictures that looked as close as anything else I've seen but I think it'll have to remain a mystery. One wild hybrid would be crazy enough without there being two or a pair. Guessing the oriole is the most likely option but still doesn't seem right so I'll just have to leave it unless I am really crazy lucky and find it again next weekend.

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