Lucy’s Warbler

1 records

MARC numberDecisionSpecies#LocationCountyArrivalDepartureObserversNotesReport
1979-001ALucy's Warbler1Clark's Pond, IpswichEssex12/1/197912/1/1979Rick Heil1


Lucy’s Warbler breeds in riparian woodlands and mesquite shrublands in the southwestern United States from w. Texas to e. California, north to n. Arizona and south to n. Sonora. It winters in w. Mexico from s. Sonora to Oaxaca.

Lucy's Warbler

Fig. 1. Lucy’s Warbler, Clark’s Pond, Ipswich, Essex 1 Dec 1979. Photo by M. Kasprzyk, originally published in American Birds.

The lone record of Lucy’s Warbler is one of the most remarkable records for Massachusetts. It was found at Clark Pond in a remarkable aggregation that also included an extremely late Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) and Cape May Warbler (Dendroica tigrina). Heil (1980, 1981) theorized about synoptic weather that may have contributed to the occurrence of these species, Massachusetts’ first Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri), and other unseasonal or western rarities during the late fall of 1979.

STATUS IN THE EAST: The Massachusetts record represents one of only 3 in the East. The other records east of Texas are singles from Cameron Parish, LA, and Whitefish Point, Michigan in Nov 12 2011. A remarkable recent record from Alberta on 8-10 Nov 2008 illustrates the potential for this species to wander (this was a first for Canada) and is discussed on David Sibley’s blog in the context of a discussion for how the internet is changing our ability to detect and confirm a higher percentage of outlandish vagrants. See the eBird map here.

IDENTIFICATION NOTES: Late season warblers should always be identified with care. Although nondescript, Lucy’s Warbler is distinctive for its all gray plumage, white eye ring, and reddish rump patch. However, Virginia’s Warbler (Vermivora virginiae) has occurred in the East and should be carefully considered for any late, grayish Vermivora. Good views of the undertail covert color (yellow in Virginia’s, whitish or buff in Lucy’s) and rump color (reddish in Lucy’s) is helpful for distinguishing between these two species. Dull Yellow Warblers (Dendroica petechia) could also be a concern, but always have olive, greenish, or yellow tones.


Heil, R.S. 1980. An avian fallout and first state records for Black-chinned Hummingbird and Lucy’s Warbler. BOEM 8:61-64.

Heil, R.S. 1981. An avian fallout and the first Massachusetts records for Black-chinned Hummingbird and Lucy’s Warbler. AB 35:139-141.

Author: Marshall J. Iliff