Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-25

Common name:

Red Phalarope

Scientific name: Phalaropus fulicaria
Date: 08/04/05
Time: 11:00 am
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: 1 CY juvenile
Sex: unknown
Location: Antelope Island Causeway between MM 5 and 6
County: Davis
Latilong: 41.0888/112.1333
Elevation: 4,200
Distance to bird: 150 feet
Optical equipment: Nikon 20-60x80 Earth & Sky Scope, Nikon Monarch 10x42 Binoculars
Weather: Clear and Hot!
Light Conditions: Sunny, direct overhead light.
Description:        Size of bird:  7 - 9" ? Size typical of phalarope sp.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Shaped like a large shorebird/sandpiper type bird
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: buffy/orange wash, black checked back and wings, with a dark crown, and dark mark behind eye
(Description:)            Bill Type: short, heavy bill, like a peep bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
While scanning a large flock of Phalarope, at least 1,000 birds, I came across a bird that stood out because of its orangish/buffy coloration. I put my scope on the bird, and immediately
noticed it was not a Red-necked or Wilson's Phalarope due to the coloration. The orangish color covered the back, head and breast. The back was checkered, black and buffy/orange along with the wings. The head had a dark eye, with a large black teardrop behind the eye, and a dark crown. The bird had short darker legs. The bird also had a short thick bill, unlike the other phalarope species. The bird was shaped like a large sandpiper, fairly round stocky body, and stood rather balanced, not upright.
Song or call & method of delivery: none
Behavior: Actively feeding and moving about with a large flock 1,000+ Red-necked and Wilson's Phalarope.
Habitat: Shallow water and mud flats on the edge of the Great Salt Lake.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Both Wilson's and Red-necked Phalarope are similair in shape but differ in plumage. Wilson's Phalarope in all plumages, lacks the overall orange color and heavy marking on back and
wings. Red-necked Phalarope is more striped, than checked on the back, and again lacks the overall orange wash. Both of these species also have longer, thinner bills.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper is a similair size, but completely different in body type, being almost completely a light buff color, with long yellow legs, walking upright, with a tiny thin bill.

Juvenile Ruff (although very unlikely) would be larger with long yellow/orange legs, and have lighter markings on the head markings.

Red Knot would be much darker and completely red/orange on the head and below. I have never seen a Red Knot this lightly colored. Also the red on grey pattern is very distincitve, and hard to mistake.

I can't think of any other species that would be similair enough, Pectoral and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper may be similair in coloration, but are heavily marked/patterned in all plumages/ages.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen all the similair species, minus Ruff, and spent considerable time shore birding and viewing them.
References consulted: The SIBLEY Guide to Birds
Description from: From memory
Observer: Tim Avery
Observer's address: 1754 Garfield Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 08/04/05
Additional material:  
Additional comments: