Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2004-

Common name:


Scientific name: Philomachus pugnax
Date: 2/15/04
Time: 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.
Length of time observed: 1 hour 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Location: Farmington Bay WMA
County: Davis
Distance to bird: 20 to 60 yards
Optical equipment: Pentax 10x42 DCF WP Binoculars, Pentax 8x42 DCF WP Binoculars, Bausch & Lomb Discoverer Zoom Scope
Weather: Cold, Mostly to Partly Cloudy
Light Conditions: Fairly Bright, Some Periods of Bright Sunlight
Detailed description of bird: The overall shape was plump and short-necked with an upright posture.
The size was the same as a Lesser Yellowlegs, and the bird was definitely much smaller than a Greater Yellowlegs, and much larger than a Least Sandpiper.
The bill was dark and tapered, approximately the same length as the width of the head from front to back.
The face was whitish-buff near the bill and the rest was washed with gray-brown which gradually darkened from the eye toward the back of the head.
The eye was dark and surrounded by a white eye-ring, with a faint dark line in front of and behind the eye.
There was a medium-brown cap on the top of the head.
The throat and upper breast had a brown-gray wash extending to the flanks.The lower breast and belly were white to the undertail.
The back and folded wings were medium to dark brown with buffy edges to the feathers which gave the back of the bird a scaled appearance.
The tertial feathers were dark brown and very long and unkempt (as opposed to neatly and tightly folded) over the tail.
The overall tail color was dark brown except for an oblong oval patch of white on each side. These white patches formed an obvious "U" or "V"
shape on the tail which was easily seen when the bird flew.
The legs were pinkish-gray, and long.
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: The bird was walking and feeding in shallow water for almost the entire time we observed it. It was very calm and undisturbed when other birds flew near or over it. It did fly a short distance a couple of times which allowed us to see the tail. It also walked on top of the ice for a couple of minutes allowing us to see it's legs clearly.
Habitat: Shallow water surrounded by ice and snow with a few small bushes and clumps of grass nearby.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Pectoral Sandpiper--This bird did not have a clearly defined line across the lower breast where the streaking abruptly ends as Pectoral Sandpipers have. Lesser/Greater Yellowlegs--Yellowlegs have more elongated, slimmer bodies, bright yellow extremely long legs, speckled-looking backs, and long slightly upturned bills. The bird we observed looked very different from the Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs that were feeding nearby.
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper--Eliminated because the tail pattern was wrong, and the legs seemed too long for this species.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Ruff--This was the second Ruff that we have seen.
Pectoral Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs--We are very familiar with all of these birds and have seen all of them many, many times.
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper--We've seen one in Northern California a few years ago.
References consulted: The Sibley Guide to Birds National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Kathy and Joel Beyer
Observer's address: 1719 Hillcrest Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah 84106
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Bryan Shirley, L.D. Giddings, et. al. from the Utah County Birders group
Date prepared: 3/6/04   (General Public)
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