Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2019-24

Common name:

Brown Pelican

Scientific name: Pelecanus occidentalis
Date: August 23, 2019
Time: 11:55 am and 1:55 pm
Length of time observed: 20 minutes first time, 5 second
Number: 1
Age: Juv to early adult, by bill, head colors
Sex: Unknown
Location: On the Bear River, observed from just southwest of Milepost 6, Bird Refuge Road to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
County: Box Elder
Latilong: 41'21.4"N 112'48.7"W (taken on site)
Elevation: 4219 ft (per Google Earth)
Distance to bird: 200 feet -- but I'm not good at these estimations.
Optical equipment: Leica 10 x 42, Kowa spotting scope at 25x mag
Weather: Mostly clear
Light Conditions: Excellent
Description:        Size of bird: Large
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Unmistakably pelican
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown overall, with whitish forehead and front of neck
(Description:)            Bill Type: Pelican bill, gray, white sac
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Large pelican bill, ray with slightly reddish tips and white sac.
Large white -- not yellow -- front of head and front of neck, with chocolate brown back of head and neck. Eyes in white, maybe ringed by a bit of yellow (see video). Large gray pelican-shaped body, all pretty uniform brown. Large 3 toed webbed feet, gray, and gray legs.

I did not make contemporaneous notes or consult a bird book at the time because the bird was unmistakable and familiar to me, because my party and I took many photos showing the field marks (which I will submit). And because I incorrectly assumed that it had been reported already. Many of the observations in this report are from the photos.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None
Behavior: Initially saw it swimming by the bank at some distance up river, then it flew to the river in front of us, and perched on a log, having displaced two gulls. Once there, it preened and sat.
Habitat: River, grasses on both sides
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
American White Pelican. Eliminated because of the bird's overall brown color, dark (grayish) bill color, dark foot and leg color, and smaller size.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Abundant experience with American White Pelicans as a frequent (25+ times/year) marsh visitor in Utah. I am less familiar with Brown Pelicans but have seen them nearly every time during approximately 15 visits to Morro Bay, California
References consulted: Sibley, Peterson, iBird Pro, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
Description from: From memory
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Laura Lockhart
Observer's address: 560 E. Northmont Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Maisy Phelps, my daughter.
Date prepared: 8/25/2019
Additional material: Photos, Short video
Additional comments: Some of the photos and the video were taken through my spotting scope.