Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-41(R83)b
1983 sighting resubmitted in October 2005
Information for this record is taken from a UFO sight record prepared 21 Oct 1983.

Common name:

Mountain Plover

Scientific name: Eupoda montana [now Charadrius montanus]
Date: 8/31, 9/1 /83
Time: approx. 6:30 PM, 2 PM
Length of time observed: 20 min., 1 hr.
Number: 1
Age: Unknown
Sex: Unknown  Transition plumage
Location: Aprox. 5 mi. southwest of Provo along south edge of Utah Lake (during flood stage)
County: [Utah]
Distance to bird: closest = 75 feet on both occasions
Optical equipment: 9X binocs and 20X scope (Bushnell)  [photo equip.] 300mm lens on Minolta-SR-200 camera
Weather: 8/31  mostly sunny, fair
9/1   occasional sprinkles but some direct sun  [Prior weather] ?
Light Conditions: fairly good (mostly sunny both days)
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Stocky-looking Killdeer-sized bird, definite plover shape and behavior (run and stop, pick at ground, etc.), tawny brown above, grayish white below, no black neck ring, white eyebrow stripe, dark bill (thin for golden/black-bellied plovers), some "smudgey" brown coloration around collar area and upper breast (but not as noticeable as illustrated for winter plumage in field guides), legs gray.  Bigger head and somewhat of a no-neck appearance compared to killdeer and simi-palmated plovers with which it was seen.
     In flight (seen only on 2nd date), a narrow but conspicuous white wing stripe and a broad black band near the end of the tail were noted.  The general tail pattern appeared identical to that illustrated on p. 111 in Robbins et. al.
     The back of the bird was lighter brown than either killdeer's or semi-pal. plover's with which direct comparison was possible.  The back color was uniform as in these other species not sign of light flecking as in golden/black-bellied plovers
[Variations from expected field marks]
Appeared in transition between summer and winter plumages depicted in field guide.  This is not really unexpected given date of sighting.
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: Very distinctive "tip up" behavior: the bird repeatedly would elevate the body onto a more vertical plane, raising its head and neck especially, then return to normal posture.  A "tip-up" occurred in a time frame of about one second, then another might occur 15-60 seconds later.
No interactions with other species were noted, though the bird once flushed with killdeers. Contrary to the description of Robbins et. al., this bird readily flushed at a distance of 75 feet.  I could approach nearly all other species more closely.
Habitat: flooded pasture/rangeland, lots of mudflats and shallow pools nearby.  The bird was seen on both occasions on an island mudflat to which observers had to wade to reach.  Many dry hayfields nearby.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
All Charadrius have neck rings or are smaller (Snowy Plover)
Golden/Black-bellies have light flecks on back and very different tail pattern.

Nothing native to North America is really that similar.

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have much experience with shorebirds, led birding tours for Massachusetts Audubon at shorebirding areas on Cape Cod.  I have no experience with Mountain Plovers.
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes made later from memory (notes written in notebook 2 hr after 1st sighting)
Observer: David L. Fischer
Observer's address: 177 Starcrest Drive, Orem, UT  84058
Observer's e-mail address:  
Other observers who independently identified this bird: (Also observed by M. Webb and reported separately).
Date prepared: 10/21/83
Additional material: Photo, ("not good quality") [not in archives]
Additional comments: