Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2023-54

Common name:

Bell's Sparrow

Scientific name: Artemisiopiza belli
Date: August 11, 2023
Time: About 8:30 AM
Length of time observed: About 10 Minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Unkown
Latilong: Unknown
Elevation: Unknown
Distance to bird: About 50 feet
Optical equipment: Canon 12X32 IS Binocular
Weather: Warm temperature with slight wind
Light Conditions: Early morning sunshine, Good viewing
Description:        Size of bird: About 6 inches
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Sparrow
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: brownish with mostly whitish breast
(Description:)            Bill Type: Sparrowlike, short and stout
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Very similar to sagebrush sparrow. Single breast spot on whitish breast. Pronounced dark whiskers. Bell's back darker than sagebrush. Dry land habitat on the Mojave desert with scattered Joshua trees. I could not get any calls, however the bird responded to bell's song by flying to top of low brush and not to sagebrush's song. Viewing conditions were good with good light and slight wind.
A few years ago I had had a previous observation of a probably Bell's sparrow on the flat plateau type area west of the Lytle Ranch. Because the viewing interval was short and I was not positive of the ID, I did not report the observation.
Song or call & method of delivery: Sibley recordings of both sagebrush and Bell's sparrows.
Behavior: Some movement on the ground and onto low shrubs, typical of these sparrows. I could not use behavior to split the two species.
Habitat: Mohave Desert with scattered Joshua trees
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
My major criteria for splitting the Bell's from the sagebrush were. 1: The Bell's was darker than previously observed sagebrush sparrows especially on the back. 2: The bird did not respond to the typical sagebrush sparrow song I have use in Rich County, but did respond to the Bell's call from California, as noted above. Admittedly this identification was not absolute without the song from the bird being heard. Clearly the possibility remains the bird was a darker, than I was used to, sagebrush sparrow and the response to my recordings was just lucky or random.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have observed sagebrush sparrows in Rich County for many years.
References consulted: Sibley birds west; Peterson field guide to birds 5th ed. National Geographic 7th ed.
Description from:  
Observer: Dennis D. Austin
Observer's address: 43 south 700 East
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: None
Date prepared: 09-22-2023
Additional material:  
Additional comments: