Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2017-01

Common name:

Eastern Bluebird

Scientific name: Sialia sialis
Date: 01-01-2017
Time: 11:15am
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 2
Age: adult(male),unknown(female)
Sex: Male and female
Location: Galena-Soo'nkahni reclamation site along the Jordan River
County: Salt Lake
Elevation: 4300ft
Distance to bird: At closest approach, less than 30m
Optical equipment: Vortex 8.5 X 32 Binoculars, Canon SX50 hs Digital Camera
Weather: Sunny,cold-20F, windy
Light Conditions: Backlight was a challenge, but once I found the right angle to view the bird light was good.
Description:        Size of bird: 7 inches
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Small thrush
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Male-bright blue back, rufous breast,white belly. Female-more uniform rusty brown, white belly, blue wings and tail
(Description:)            Bill Type: Short and thin
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
First noticed a small thrush flush from a tree, seemed to small and chubby to be a robin, so I tracked it down to get a better look, noted it was a female bluebird, but seemed very rufous below for a Mountain. Then the male flew in and joined the female and I noted the bright blue back, rufous breast, rufous throat that wrapped up onto the cheeks, and solid blue back without rufous eliminating a Western Bluebird, also noted white belly
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: They gave a 'Twerdledee' call a few times, compared with calls on Audubon Birds app, perfect match for Eastern, very unlike the calls of Western and Mountain Bluebirds I'm familiar with.
Behavior: Perched in Russian Olives, were a bit skiddish and wouldn't let me get to close, but wouldn't fly far and would perch conspicuously in Russian Olives.
Habitat: Riparian river bottom, mostly grown with Russian Olives, some large wet meadows and marshes nearby.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Mountain Bluebird-males never have a rufous breast, make a different softer call

Western Bluebird-Males have a blue throat and usually a rufous back patch, also a blue not white belly, the the blue is more of an indigo blue than the royal blue of a Eastern Bluebird, make a different harsher call
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Yes, I saw some Eastern Bluebirds in Mexico last winter. I've seen many Mountain and Western Bluebirds.Several other I was with have experience with Eastern as well.
References consulted: Sibley's 'Western Birds', 'Audubon Birds' app
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 84102, SLC UT
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Terri Pope, Cooper Farr, Karin Kirchoff, Lynn Bohs, Vivian schneggenburger, Bryan Larsen, Laurie Joseph were with me, Matt Pendleton found them later that day.
Date prepared: 1-1-17
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: eBird checklist: