Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2014-0

Common name:

Nelson's Sparrow

Scientific name: Ammodramus nelsoni
Date: 9-29-2014
Time: Around 12pm
Length of time observed: 1 hour
Number: 1
Age:  adult
Location: Farmington Bay WFMA
County: Davis
Elevation: 4215ft
Distance to bird: 3m
Optical equipment: Nikon 10x50 Binoculars
Weather: Mostly sunny-70F
Light Conditions: Excellent
Description:        Size of bird: Small sparrow-5inches
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Short tailed sparrow
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Yellow, gray and brown
(Description:)            Bill Type: Short,conical sparrow like bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Ammodramus sparrow popped up into cattails, Gray cheeks patch,gray median crown strip and gray patch on the sides of the neck, plus the yellow breast and throat with faint gray streaking in the flanks and breast made adult Nelson's the only option. Very distinctive.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: I heard it make a thin,high pitched tseet a few times,similar to a Grasshopper sparrows, but mostly silent.
Behavior: At first it flushed from the tall grass on the side of a road, then perch high in cattails giving me great looks for a few minutes, then disappeared into the cattails and hid. Relocated about 1/2 hour later, again perching high in cattails and bullrush, before disappearing again into the marsh vegetation.
Habitat: Large freshwater wetland complex on the east side of the Great Salt Lake, seemed to favor tall Cattails and Bullrush, but also seen in tall grass.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Le Conte's Sparrow lacks a gray crown and neck patch

Baird's Sparrow also lacks gray, has a pale belly and black streaking on face and breast

Saltmarsh Sparrow has a paler throat and breast, with darker black streaking on breast

Grasshopper Sparrow is uniform pale yellow below, with no gray in the neck or cheeks
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
References consulted:  'Audubon Guides: Birds' app,'iBird Pro' app, 'Sibley Guide to Birds':D.A. Sibley 2014
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South #105, SLC, UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Shyloh Robinson, Matthew Pendleton, and several others
Date prepared: 9-29-2014
Additional material: Photos