If you watch birds for any length of time, you are bound to run up against a bird you can't identify.
Fall warblers routinely fall into this category. In breeding plumage, warblers are easy if you have a field guide (and if you can get a good look at the bird, that is).
I hate ID'ing warblers. I love looking at them, but figuring out what the Hell I'm looking at gives me a headache. Kind of how I used to feel about ID'ing hawks. Hmmm.
Today, when confronted with a CFW (Confusing Fall Warbler), I bucked up and decided to figure it out. It took an hour to ID ONE BIRD.
This flitty goofball would only hold still for maybe three seconds at a time. I cursed my binoculars. I cursed the beautiful sunlight that inevitably back lit the bird. I cursed the park workers who just had to drive through when the bird got close enough to get pictures.
I ran through my field guide (Thank you, Sibley, for showing fall plumages!), observed the behavior, ruled out most of the warblers.
Two white wing bars.
Dark eye line.
Gleaning from the undersides of leaves.
Hold still, DAMMIT~
For the first time, I was able to see a reddish blush on the flanks. Thank you, flitty bird, for showing me that.
So, yes. After an hour, I ID'ed this as a Bay-breasted Warbler. It helped that it's early fall and this little guy still had some "bay" on the "breast".
If you want to see better photos than what I have, go look here.
And if you want to dispute me and tell me that there is no way that is a Bay-breasted Warbler, be prepared to make me cry and possibly call you vile names.