Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-14

Common name:

Clay-colored Sparrow

Scientific name: Spizella Pallida
Date: 06-01-05
Time: 0630
Length of time observed: 5 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult
Location: Millard Co,. 4 miles east of Crystal Peak along Black Rock-Garrison Road
County: Millard
Distance to bird: 30 meters
Optical equipment: Swift 8.5x44
Weather: Clear and windy
Light Conditions: bright
Description:        Size of bird: Sparrow size about 5 inches long
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Sparrow shaped
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: brownish
(Description:)            Bill Type: small conical
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
While conducting a Breeding Bird Survey I heard the bird first. It was singing a single note 3 or 4 phrase buzzy raspy song, similar to a brewers sparrow but much shorter. I located the bird and
at first glance I thought it was a Lark Sparrow with the bold facial pattern.

Characteristics noted:
* Brown crown with dark streaks running through it. Down the center of the crown was a prominant off-white stripe.

* Bold white supercillium

* Brown cheek patch which was edged by darker brown which helped contrast it sharply with the white supercillium and pale malar stripe.

* Pale malar stripe had a darker whisker stipe running through it.

* pale lores

* Grayish Collar on the sided of the neck which extended around and included the nape

* Bill was small pale and conical

* Breast and belly were almost white, very slight buffy colored.

* Tail slim fairly long and slightly forked

* Back brownish with darker streaks running down from the grayish nape.

* rump Brownish

* wing bars pale
Song or call & method of delivery: A single note raspy, buzzy call 3 to 4 short phrases long
Behavior: Was perched on top of a Sagebrush singing for several minutes.
Habitat: sage, low brush habitat
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Brewer's Sparrow is the only species that is slightly similar in breeding plummage. There were Brewer's Sparrows in the same area at this survey stop and other stops during the morning. The Brewer's Sparrows seemed to be more grayish overall and more washed out coloring. The Clay-colored Sparrow was brownish overall with bolder coloring. The Brewer's had streaking through the crown with a faint median stripe but no where near as bold and distinct as the Clay-colored. The brewer's Sparrows did not have the bold facial markings with the contrasting cheek patch, whitish and prominate supercillium and whitish malar stripe. The Brewer's Sparrows did not have the grayish nape but rather light brown with darker brown streaks. No whisker stripes were
noted in the Brewer's Sparrows.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
This is my first observation of a Clay-colored Sparrow. I have seen Hundreds of Brewer's Sparrows.
References consulted: Sibley, Kaufman, Zimmer
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Terry Sadler
Observer's address: 887 Germania Ave.
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 06-06-05
Additional material: No_additional_Materials
Additional comments: