Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2024-26

Common name:

Cassin's Sparrow

Scientific name: Peucaea cassinii
Date: 05/11/2024
Time: 9:45 AM
Length of time observed: Roughly 45 seconds
Number: 1
Location: The Prove River Delta
County: Utah county
Latilong: 40.24577 N, 111.72446 W
Elevation: 4,489
Distance to bird: Roughly 15 yards
Optical equipment: Vortex Diamondback, and Nikon D500 with 500mm lense
Weather: Clear skies, 60, no wind.
Light Conditions: Clear skies, full sun.
Description:        Size of bird: Roughly Song sparrow sized.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Sparrow shaped, with a medium short tail. Forehead steep down to a medium bill.
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Very grayish. Aside from a slight yellow lore and rusty brown speckling.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Medium sized bull for a sparrow.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Very grey overall. Some photos will show some slight tan/yellow in the lores, which we all noted in the field while trying to ID. Round Forehead shape coming down to a medium sized pointy bill. Dark speckling on the back, somewhat pink legs, a faint brownish gray eyeline, faint white/grey eye ring, and faint brown crown. Aside from the dark speckling, this bird didn t have any sharp plumage features. Very drab and pale, I believe this was a gray adult Cassin s
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: This bird never made a sound while we were observing it.
Behavior: Very low and skulky. Eventually away flew low into tall grassy fields.
Habitat: Dry grassy fields around the provo river delta. It was seen near the waters edge.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Brewers sparrow;
I initially thought it was a brewers sparrow, but quickly noticed it didn t have the facial pattern. It lacked any mustache, the bill was larger, the slight tan/yellow in the lores, and the dark back speckling all ruled out brewers for me
Grasshopper sparrow;
Another bird that was considered before reporting. The head shape rules out grasshopper sparrow for me. It had a steep forehead going down to a pointy medium bill, where a grasshopper sparrow would show a rounded forehead more inline with the bill. This bird also did not have the coloration of a grasshopper. It didn t show any yellow/orange/buffy coloration on its sides, face, and lacked any rusty/red coloration in the back. It also didn t have any bold contrast from the face to the crown, or any of the more bold facial markings like a grasshopper sparrow. All this ruled out grasshopper sparrow to me.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
This would be my first experience with a Cassin's sparrow.
References consulted: Kameron C, Kendall Watkins, Quinn Diaz, Bryant Olsen, Max Malmquist.
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: McKay Olson
Observer's address: Pleasant grove, UT
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Jeff Cooper, Esther Sumner, KC Child s, Natalie Tanner, and Keeli Marvel.
Date prepared: 05/14/2024
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: Thanks all!