Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 02-2002a

(Transcribed from the original record of May 1996 which was found in May 2005)

Common name:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Scientific name: Nyctanassa violacea
Date: 5/8 - 5/96
Time: 2:30 pm
Length of time observed: ~ 3 hours over 2 day period
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex:   -
Location: .5 mile N. of Burriston Ponds
County: Juab County, UT
Distance to bird: ~25 yards at closest point
Optical equipment: 8x40 Nikons binoculars; 15x surveyor scope
Weather:   Partly cloudy
Light Conditions:   Mid-day - full sun to partly cloudy.
Detailed description of bird: The following is a list of the heron's characteristics I have gleaned from my field notes (attached).
   1. Grey bodied - medium sized heron - seemed same size as black-crowned.
   2. White face patch bordered by black.
   3. Dark bill
   4. Orangish-pink legs.
   5. All grey on breast, belly, and neck.
   6. Black under chin - unbroken from border of cheek patch.  ~1-2 inches wide
   7. Pale-yellow crown - yellowish at forehead and fading to white from crown to back of head and streamers. 
   8. Red eyes
   9. Wings and back gray streaked
 10. "Streamer" feathers white, and seemed more whispy than those of black-crowned Night-heron.
 11. In flight, legs extended more noticeably than black crowned's.
       (see  photos)
Song or call & method of delivery:   Voice not heard
Behavior:   Flushed from thick Russian olives, would fly a short distance and land in Russian Olives and perch.  This heron had a favorite roost on an old downed log.  The heron would return to this log when things had calmed down.  When we approached the heron stretched out his neck a bit and seemed nervous and ready to fly.  (see narrative)
Habitat:   The heron was in a dense Russian Olive thicket in a spring and creek fed swampy area.  The thicket was also characterized by willows, thistle, a few cottonwoods, and rushes and sedges.  The thicket was surrounded on both sides by pastures.  The water in the area was ~ 1-3 feet deep and is slow moving and not moving in some areas.
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
  Both immature and adult black-crowned night herons were present in the area and allowed for good comparison both in flight and while roosting.  Adult black crowns showed large black patch on back, shorter appearing legs in flight, black on the head, no black border on white on cheek, and lighter colored underneath.  The immature herons were brown streaked, and legs did not extend as far past tail while in flight.
Previous experience with this & similar species:   I have looked for Yellow-crowned Night herons on Eastern trips, but had not seen one until this instance.  I have observed black-crowned night herons every year for the past ten years or so.
References consulted:   Consulted Peterson's guide to Western Birds after initial observation.  Original description and sketch were done prior to consultation of guide.  On subsequent observations I looked for the extension of the legs while in flight as described in Peterson's.

Significance of record in this area or the state:  I did not know that status of the bird in Utah until consulting with Dennis Shirley, Merrill Webb & others, although I noticed that Peterson's guide listed it for surrounding states.

Description from: Notes taken at time of Sighting,  notes made later and from memory
Observer: Darren Shirley
Observer's address:   399 N Loafer Dr., Elk Ridge, UT  84651
Observer's e-mail address:  
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
  [Will Richards] Ned Hill, Robert Herbert, Matt & Pia DeVries
Date prepared: 6/2/96
Additional material: See attached field notes, sketch, [narrative], and slides (3) - 2 prints  (2 of the slides are mad from the originals so that Ned could keep them and and one is an original.)  Original Documents