Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-

Common name:

Curlew Sandpiper

Scientific name: Calidris ferruginea
Date: August 14, 2005
Time: 7:15 pm
Length of time observed: 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Location: Antelope Island Causeway
County: Davis
Distance to bird: 20-25 yards
Optical equipment: Bausch and Lomb Discover Zoom Telescope
Weather: Clear, calm
Light Conditions: Bright sun
Description:        Size of bird: About 8" in length, as compared to surrounding Western and Baird's Sandpipersand Snowy Plovers
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Slender, long-legged sandpiper
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Pale gray and white
(Description:)            Bill Type: Long, decurved
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
This bird had long black legs. We noted about one-third of the complete leg length above the joint and two-thirds below.
The bird seemed much "taller" than the surrounding birds--mostly Western Sandpipers, Snowy Plovers and a few Baird's Sandpipers.

The bill was long, black and curved downward. For comparison, the length of the bill was one-and-a-half to two times the width of the head from front to back.

Its head and face were pale gray. A bright white supercillium contrasted with the gray face. The cap above the white eyebrow appeared slightly darker than the rest of the head.

The bird's back (and folded wings) were a striking extremely pale gray and the underparts were white. There was no visible variation to the gray over white pattern except for a very slight gray wash (no streaking) on the upper breast.

The bird had a slender overall body shape and a longer body length than a Western Sandpiper. Assuming the length of a Western Sandpiper at 6" would make this bird approximately 8" in length.

We also noted a narrow white wing stripe on the top surface of the wing as the bird was preening.
Song or call & method of delivery: Not heard
Behavior: The bird chased several smaller birds, preened for a few minutes and occasionally pecked at the wet mudflat. When the surrounding birds flew, it ran several steps and then joined the flock of smaller birds.
Habitat: Wet mudflat on the shore of the Great Salt Lake, next to very shallow water.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Stilt Sandpiper has yellow legs. Its bill is also straighter with a slight droop.
Dunlin does not have a bright white supercillium. It is also not as slender in body shape and is browner and more darkly colored overall in basic plumage. It also has a long straight bill with a slight droop.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
We've seen one prior Curlew Sandpiper in incomplete breeding plumage on the AIC in 5/2001. We've seen many Stilt Sandpipers and Dunlins in both basic and breeding plumage over several
References consulted: Sibley and National Geographic field guides
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Joel and Kathy Beyer
Observer's address: 1719 Hillcrest Ave., Salt Lake City, UT 84106-3623
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: August 16, 2005
Additional material:  
Additional comments: