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TEWA, vs phvi


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So, I was feeling a little proud of myself at first but, then, not so much.
Yesterday(NW Arkansas) there was a small bird at the bird bath... my kids were looking at it. It stuck around long enough for me to go to the living room and look, go back to my room, and put the lens on my camera, and then get some shots. I don't think I've seen either species be so cooperative before.

At first I was thinking vireo... and, I was sort of proud of myself(helped that it was cooperative) as I analyzed the features. The cap would have been a lot more noticeably dark if it were a red-eyed vireo... a good amount of yellow on the bird... picture doesn't do it justice how greenish it was on the back. I double checked the field guide, certain it wasn't warbling vireo... (this kind of studying is how I learn best, really) and I see that the eye line goes all the way to the bill which of course would help rule out warbling vireo... so, I was pretty settled on philadelphia, having had one earlier in the day that was calling so clearly(just the whine calls) that even Merlin got it quickly... 
Anyway... I was sure, PHVI... 
But then later on I reminded myself(Don't remember how) of the tennessee warbler. So, to the field guides...
This is one of those comparisons that just could drive a person batty. This bird didn't vocalize at all so that frustrated things.
After looking more carefully at the bill, and then, I can't tell... do you see "wing bars?"  I decided it was probably TEWA.
Feel free to tell me which but my real question here is, with a silent bird, given such good looks as I had, what am I looking for to make the ID easier next time??? 
Bills are difficult for me to judge in the field unless I have a side by side comparison. That feature would have been pretty difficult for me to base an ID on with this bird. I mean, just looking at pictures online, I'm not finding that easy to judge... without a reference next to it, REALLY hard. 
I have other angles of this bird as well but this is a nice profile shot. The bill is looking more TEWA to me now but, again, in the field I don't know that I could have been sure.
Next time I have a bird sitting in the open for me to stare at, especially if it's silent, what am I looking for to aid in ID?

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Vireos have blue feets, this one does not so it's a TEWA

That seems like it might be another tricky one to pick up on in the field... especially after looking at some pictures on all about birds, where some of the TEWA examples sure had darker feet.

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23 minutes ago, millipede said:

That seems like it might be another tricky one to pick up on in the field... especially after looking at some pictures on all about birds, where some of the TEWA examples sure had darker feet.

Tennessees are the ones that are supposed to have darker feet. I agree it's not especially useful as a field mark, but is fairly reliable when reviewing from photos. Philadelphia Vireos will be much more yellow in the throat area. They also have yellowish undertail coverts and TEWAs' are white. Not sure what you meant when you mentioned "wing bars", but TEWAs' wingbars are generally not very noticeable. Experience will make this ID easier.

Edited by Quiscalus quiscula
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6 hours ago, Quiscalus quiscula said:

Not sure what you meant when you mentioned "wing bars", but TEWAs' wingbars are generally not very noticeable

that is what I meant... does it look like wingbars on this bird? faint as it may be?

I think the feet would be hard to judge. Again, even on all about birds, the feet aren't the same in every photo for the warbler, some are definitely dark enough to get confused.
And the bill... IF I had been looking at that, I probably wouldn't have leaned towards vireo to begin with... But, I wasn't looking at that at the time...
AND... you'll often see either species higher up in the trees instead of hanging out like this was.
So, outside of the bill and the feet(back to my main question) are we just left with GISS? to help ID these?

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8 hours ago, millipede said:

that is what I meant... does it look like wingbars on this bird? faint as it may be?

I think the feet would be hard to judge. Again, even on all about birds, the feet aren't the same in every photo for the warbler, some are definitely dark enough to get confused.
And the bill... IF I had been looking at that, I probably wouldn't have leaned towards vireo to begin with... But, I wasn't looking at that at the time...
AND... you'll often see either species higher up in the trees instead of hanging out like this was.
So, outside of the bill and the feet(back to my main question) are we just left with GISS? to help ID these?

To me, PHVI have a much larger eye, and the white eye brow wraps around on top of the bill, giving them faint spectacles. Both species plumage varies in amounts of blue and yellow, so I can’t really give a definitive answer there, but there are structural differences which can help. PHVI is large headed, more ball-shaped and moves around more slowly, while TEWA is slim and streamlined, and darts around quickly.  

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9 hours ago, millipede said:

the feet aren't the same in every photo for the warbler, some are definitely dark enough to get confused.

I dislike the 'blue feet' field mark for vireos.  They look gray to me far more often than blue.  It's useful to separate vireos from pale-legged species but for me, it's just not useful to separate them from other dark-legged birds. 

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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