Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2002-18

Common name:

Canyon towhee

Scientific name: Pipilo fuscus
Date: Tue, May 21, 2002
Time: 9am
Length of time observed: 1 minute
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: ?
Location: E side of Jordan river, roughly 1/2 mile S of 4800 S, just N of the foot bridge
County: Salt Lake
Latilong: 40 degrees 39' 46" N 111 degrees 54' 35" W
Elevation: 4200 feet
Distance to bird: 20 feet
Optical equipment: Nikon 8X32 Superior E binoculars
Weather: clear, just after a rain
Light Conditions: excellent
Detailed description of bird: The size and shape of a towhee, with the towhee's long tail. The bird was brownish grey with a rufous cap. It lacked the white throat of a Green-tailed towhee. It had the central breast-spot of a Canyon towhee.

Reservations: I did not notice two field marks of the Canyon Towhee: the dark "necklace" and the rufous undertail coverts. But I wasn't looking for them either. While the bird was in view, I was trying to make it into a Green-tailed towee, so I was concentrating on its throat and the color of its tail feathers.
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: It was foraging on trail when I first arrived, then flew to a low branch, then flew off into the willows.
Habitat: Riparian.
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
Green-tailed towhee: had central breast spot, lacked white throat. California towhee: even farther out of range, cap was too rufous, face and throat not rufous enough.
Female brown-headed cowbird: bill shape, long tail, rufous cap, lack of streaks on breast, had central spot on breast.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I've seen Green-tailed towhees many times in the foothills of this area. I saw lots of California towhees in southern California last month, I've seen Canyon towhees in New Mexico and in southern Arizona. My most recent sighting of a Canyon towhee, would probably have been two years ago, on my trip to southern AZ.
References consulted: Sibley guide, National Geographic Guide, 3rd ed.
Description from: From memory
Observer: Alan Rogers
Observer's address: 1826 Logan Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Date prepared: 24 May 2002  (General Public)
Additional material: