THIRD UTAH BIRD RECORDS COMMITTEE REPORT*
ELLA SORENSEN, 3868 Marsha Dr., West Valley City, Utah 64120
KEITH L. DIXON, Department of Biology, UMC 5305, Utah State University,
Logan, Utah 84322
STEVEN P. HEDGES, Bureau of Land Management, 1579 N. Main, Cedar City,
CLAYTON M. WHITE, Department of Zoology, 574 Widtsoe Bldg., Brigham
Young University, Provo, Utah 84602
This is the third report of the Utah Ornithological
Society Records Committee. It contains 23 accepted records of 21 species
and 3 unaccepted records. Evaluated records are listed by common name and
scientific name following nomenclature of the American Ornithologists'
Union 1983 Checklist and the 35th supplement (1985). Information listed
for each accepted record follows the format used in previous reports (see
Utah Birds l(2):28) except that consultants are not listed for individual
records. Unaccepted records contain the same information as accepted records
except for observers, who are not listed. Records submitted but not included
in this report are still being evaluated by the Committee.
The Records Committee would like to thank
those individuals who have submitted records to the Committee, and to the
following consultants who gave generously of their time to help evaluate
certain records: Jon Dunn, Ned K. Johnson, Paul Lehman, Guy McCaskie, Allan
Phillips, J. Van Remsen.
The Committee greatly appreciates the assistance
of Bob Walters and Tim Provan, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, for
assistance in copying and circulating records.
PACIFIC LOON (Gavia pacifica). Two (39-1985); 15-20 Nov 1985;
Rush Lake, Tooele Co.; (JB,CM,ES,RS,JLe,RSm,KL,JD); documented: JB ,ES.
The Pacific Loons were observed with Common Loons,
making their smaller size and slimmer bill obvious. The crown and hind
neck were lighter than the back, and the diagnostic chin strap was observed.
Most Utah records of this rare Utah migrant are for November. The Pacific
Loon was formerly a race of Arctic Loon, but was given specific status
in 1985 (Auk 120:680).
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea). One immature (37-1985);
10 Aug 1985; west of Salt Lake International Airport, Salt Lake Co.; (ES);
The differentiation of this bird from the similar
immature Snowy Egret was made by a combination of the following characters:
grayish lores, thicker slightly decurved bill, and the slow methodical
method of stalking prey. When the bird was first sighted, the observer,
who has had experience observing the feeding behavior of Snowy Egrets which
are common in the area, felt that the bird might be ill because of its
slow gait and long periods of motionless standing.
The basal two-thirds of the bill was gray, but immature
Snowy Egrets can have black, gray, or gray-based black-tipped bills. The
legs were a murky greenish-yellow and uniform in color, front and back.
Young Snowy Egrets have dark legs which are yellowish-green in back, but
often appear greenish in the field. These last two characters (bill color
and leg color) are not diagnostic for Little Blue Heron. See Utah Birds
l(2):25 for additional discussion on the identification of immature Snowy
and Little Blue herons. This is the fourth acceptable record for Utah.
TRUMPETER SWAN (Cygnus buccinator). One adult male (30-1985);
11 Apr 1985; Maeser area of Ashley Valley, NW of Vernal, Uintah Co.; (DC,SC,DZ);
This northeastern Utah record was of a bird wearing
a red radio collar with the white letters R2. It was banded at Red Rocks
SURF SCOTER (Melanitta perspicillata). Three females and/or immatures
(25-1985); 24 Oct 1985; Great Salt Lake near Saltaire, Salt Lake Co.; (ES);
The birds were differentiated from the more commonly
reported White-winged Scoter by the lack of feathering on the bill, the
dark crown, and lack of a white speculum, a character which was noted when
the birds repeatedly flapped their wings.
WHITE-WINGED SCOTER (Melanitta fusca). Three (40-1985); 24 Oct-Dec
1985; Great Salt Lake north of 1-80 between Tooele and Grantsville, Tooele
Co.; (DM,JB,ES,RS,HS,CM,JL,JW, JO); documented: ES; photo: ES. Three females
and/or immatures (41-1985); 15 Nov 1985; Farmington Bay, Davis Co.; (ES);
Three birds were observed on 24 Oct 1985, north
of 1-80 by Dale Martin and Joelle Buffa. Over the next several weeks, repeated
observations of one to six individuals were reported in the same general
area by many observers. Three were reported from Farmington Bay and one
from Logan, causing some to feel that Utah was experiencing an invasion
of White-winged Scoters. Unfortunately, sufficient reliable data are not
available to accurately assess whether that is the case. White-winged is
the most commonly reported scoter in Utah. Most are singles or small groups
of less than five, but as many as 100 have been seen together. Most of
the Great Salt Lake is inaccessible to birders and data are sketchy. The
area along 1-80 where most observations have been made was created only
recently as a result of the flooding levels of the lake. The only sightings
available from that area are for fall 1985 when it received heavy coverage.
It is impossible to make comparative statements which are scientifically
sound when baseline data are not available.
COMMON BLACK-HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus). One immature or
sub-adult (34-1985); 19 Apr and 26 Apr 1985; Grafton, Washington Co.; (JLG,JAG);
documented: JLG; photo: JLG.
This hawk is a sporadic summer resident in the Zion
area with one pair seen regularly between 1962 and 1975. See Utah Birds
l(3):43-47 for details of these observations.
PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus). One juvenile (36-1985);
8 Sep 1985; Yuba Res., Juab Co.; (SH,VJH); documented: SH.
With the exception of three records of Long-tailed
Jaeger (two are specimens), all reports of jaegers in Utah are Parasitic
Jaegers. This was one of several reported in the fall of 1985, including
one verified by numerous photographs.
GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL (Larus glaucescens). One first winter (18-1984);
11 Dec 1984, 14 Jan 1985, 10 Feb 1985, 17 Feb 1985; Salt Lake landfill,
Salt Lake Co.; (ES,RS,BB,GB,CM, JB,SH,VJH); documented: ES.
An individual of this species was observed on four
occasions at the Salt Lake landfill. There was nothing to indicate whether
it was the same bird or different birds. This represents the first record
of the species in Salt Lake County and followed closely the first report
for Utah on 20 Nov 1984 at the Provo landfill (Utah Birds l(2):30).
GLAUCOUS GULL (Larus hyperboreus). One second winter (26-1984);
28 Dec 1984; Salt Lake landfill, Salt Lake Co.; (ES); documented: ES. One
first winter (18-1985); 11 Jan 1985; Salt Lake landfill, Salt Lake Co.;
(ES); documented: ES. One adult (19-1985); 19 Jan 1985; Salt Lake landfill,
Salt Lake Co.; (ES); documented: ES.
This gull is a regular winter visitor to Utah. It
is interesting to note the records of gulls at different ages.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenalda asiatica). One (24-1984); 23-27 Apr
1984; Springdale, Washington Co.; (DG,JLG,JM,JAG,LP); documented: JLG;
This dove is considered to be an uncommon summer
resident of local occurrence in lower Beaver Dam Wash. It is accidental
in other parts of the state. This is the first record of this species in
the Zion area.
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus). Two males (35-1985);
15 Aug 1985; Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kane Co.; (SH,JA,BL,JL,NW); documented:
The second state record. Details of this sighting
were published in Utah Birds l(3):48.
BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila melanura). One adult male
(31-1985); 9 Mar 1985; Beaver Dam Wash, Washington Co.; (ES.SH,VJH); documented:
This observation was made in the same area where
two were sighted in 1984 and may have been one of the same individuals.
VARIED THRUSH (Ixoreus naevius). One adult male, one unknown
age (16-1985); 5 Oct 1985; Promontory Mtns, Box Elder Co.; (ES,RS); documented:
This thrush winters from southern Alaska,
southern British Columbia, and northern Idaho south through Washington,
Oregon, and California to northern Baja California. Winter wanderers are
observed regularly as far east as New England. Most Utah records are of
single birds. Recently, one or two have been recorded annually in Utah.
LECONTE'S THRASHER (Toxostoma lecontei). One adult male (33-1985);
9, 14, and 16 Mar 1985; Beaver Dam Slope, Washington Co.; (CM,JB,ES,RS,SH,JW);
documented: SH; photo: ES.
This pale thrasher has sandy-gray plumage which
contrasts greatly with the long dark tail. On 9 March, the bird was observed
repeatedly for over an hour singing its melodious song from a Joshua tree
top. When approached closely, the bird would drop straight to the ground
and could be seen running quickly away through the sparse vegetation. This
behavior is characteristic of this infrequently documented species which
is seldom observed flying.
RED-EYED VIREO (Vireo olivaceus). One (11-1985); 2, 1985; Ogden,
Weber Co; (MK); documented: MK; photo: MK. One immature (20-1985); 8 Sep
1985; Kaufman Ranch, Millard Co.; (PL,ES); documented: PL,ES.
Although this vireo is abundant in the eastern United
States, Utah has had fewer recent. reports than formerly, so this species
is probably being overlooked by Utah observers.
The following excerpt from Record 20-1985 of an
immatures Red-eyed Vireo submitted by Paul Lehman contains useful information
for identifying this species.
"A large, hefty vireo with a large, flat head; bold,
straight white supercillum which was bordered both above and below by thin
black lines which, in turn, contrasted with gray crown, which contrasted
with bright medium green back and unmarked wings; white underparts with
pale yellow wash to undertail coverts; rather large vireo bill had noticeable
hook to tip, brown eye (im.).
"Warbling Vireo slightly smaller, slightly smaller
bill with less obvious hook; less pronounced supercilium also curves slightly
up and over eye (is not straight) and lacks thin dark lines bordering it;
upperparts not as green and do not contrast as much with crown."
BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Dendroica striata). One immature (21-1985);
4 Sep 1985; Promontory Mtns, Box Elder Co.; (PL,ES); documented: PL,ES.
This is one of the eastern warblers which most frequently
strays to the west in fall migration and is most similar to the Bay-breasted
Warbler. The Bay-breasted Blackpoll type has bold white tailspots and white
wingbars and a dark streaked back. The underparts are not strongly marked
and the head, back, and rump have greenish tones. The following excerpt
from Record 21-1985 submitted by Paul Lehman contains information for field
identification of immature Blackpoll Warblers.
"A rather plump warbler almost Yellow-rumped sized,
but shorter tailed; yellowish throat and upper breast with dusky streaking
on breast; remainder of underparts white; dull grayish-olive wash to flanks;
white under-tail coverts; two distinct white wingbars and tailspots; olivey-green
back with rather thick dusky vertical streaks; yellowish supercilium; thin
broken eyering; dusky legs contrasted with distinctly paler (fleshy-yellow)
"imm./fall Bay-breasted Warbler most similar but
has dark (blackish) feet, buffy undertail coverts, less streaking on breast,
lime-ier [sic] green upperparts; almost all show at least a trace of buff
on flanks. Pine Warbler eliminated by foot color, facial pattern, back
streaking; only adult Pine has green upperparts -adult in Utah in early
Sept. extremely unlikely."
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia). One adult (17-1985);
5 Sep 1985; Wah Wah Ranch, Beaver Co.; (PL,ES); documented: PL,ES.
Wah Wah Ranch in the otherwise barren Wah Wah Valley
is located in the southwestern Utah portion of the Great Basin. This warbler,
another of the more frequently observed eastem warblers in the west, was
seen creeping along low branches of elm trees located on this isolated
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla). One adult male (12-1985);
24 Aug 1985; Ogden, Weber Co.; (MK); documented: MK; photo: MK.
This species is a rare summer resident and transient
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapillus). One (14-1985); 21 Sep 1985;
Ogden, Weber Co.; (MK); documented: MK; photo: MK.
This is the fourth documented record for Utah. The
bird was banded and photographed by Merlin Killpack in his backyard, the
same location where he banded one on 10 Oct 1911. Four days after Record
14-1985 was banded, Killpack found a dead Ovenbird (not 14-1985) which
was prepared as a specimen now deposited in the BYU Bean Museum.
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus). One (43-1985);
3-6 Nov 1985; Parley's Gulch, Salt Lake Co.; (JW,CM); documented: JW,CM.
Almost all Utah records are spring males in breeding
plumage, but in those western states with more intensive coverage, Rose-breasted
Grosbeaks are recorded year around with peaks in spring and fall. Clearly,
some females and fall immatures are being overlooked in Utah, undoubtedly
because they closely resemble the more common Black-headed Grosbeak. See
the discussion of this record in Utah Birds l(3):52.
HARRIS' SPARROW (Zonotrichia querula). One immature (44-1985);
7 Nov 1985; Parley's Gulch, Salt Lake Co.; (ES,BB,JW); documented: JW.
This species is a regular winter visitor to Utah.
BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax fulvifrons). One adult (28-1985);
7 Jul 1985; Green Canyon, Cache Co.
The extreme northern portion of the breeding range
of this species barely extends into the United States. The A.O.U. Checklist
(1983) lists no records outside of Arizona and New Mexico. According to
Allan Phillips (litt.), there are no recent records outside of extreme
southern Arizona, the breeding range being reduced from former times. The
observer felt that the bird, based on its behavior, was "in close proximity
to its nest." Written documentation for this record was sent to Allan Phillips
and Ned Johnson, both ornithologists with extensive experience with flycatchers.
Both considered the description to be too sketchy and suggested the possibility
of a color variant of one of Utah's more common flycatchers. Very little
information in this report was devoted to eliminating similar species.
In addition, Phillips stated that if the bird were fulvifrons it was behaving
strangely and was in atypical habitat. Much greater detail is necessary
for a record of such ornithological significance to be accepted.
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis). One (20-1984); 28
Jul 1984; Ivins Res., Washington Co.
This bird was very briefly described and lacked
sufficient detail to separate it from another red bird (Simmer Tanager)
of the Ivins area. The Red Cardinal is a common resident of southern and
central Arizona. It has extended its range considerably since 1870 (G.
M. Monson & A. R. Phillips. 1981. An annotated checklist of the birds
of Arizona) and is not unexpected in Utah, especially in the southern part
of the state. The only accepted record for Utah is a specimen obtained
on 10 Mar 1983 in Ogden.
PURPLE FINCH (Carpodacus purpureus). One female (19-1984); 11
Nov 1984; Logan, Cache Co.
Purple and Cassin's finches
closely resemble each other. Cassin's Finch is a common breeding species
in Utah and some remain throughout the winter. There are no accepted records
of Purple Finch in Utah. Most characters used to differentiate the two
species are subtle and require experience, preferably with both species.
Great care should be taken, especially when direct comparisons are not
possible since very few characters are diagnostic by themselves. An identification
is best made using a combination of characters. This record was based on
only one fieldmark, the dark malar stripe, but Cassin's females can also
have a dark malar stripe. Additional details are necessary for a record
of this difficult species to be acceptable.
OBSERVERS CITED: John Anderson, Bob Bond, Georgene Bond, Joelle Buffa,
David Condon, Stephen Cranney, Jules Dreyfous. Dane Gifford, Jerome L.
Gifford, Jewel A. Gifford, Steven Hedges, V.J. Hedges, Kim Lewis, Merlin
Killpack, Jeanne Le Ber (JLe), Paul Lehman, Joe Leigh, Blame Lunceford,
Dale Martin, Clyde Morris, J.R. Murphy, Louise Pettit, Ray Smith (RSm),
Ella Sorensen, Richard Sorensen, H.B. Spencer, Merrill Webb, Jim Woolf,
*Source: Utah Birds 1(4):77-86.