Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-28

Common name:

Pileated Woodpecker

Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus
Date: May 6, 2006
Time: 11:10 a.m.
Length of time observed: about 10-15 seconds
Number: 1
Age: not known
Sex: not known
Location: above Highway 6 in Spanish Fork canyon, near the entrance to the Covered Bridge development
County: Utah
Elevation: about 5000' (?)
Distance to bird: it was initially several hundred yards east of me but flew directly toward me for 10-15 seconds and then passed me at a distance of 40-50 feet and an altitue of 20-25'
Optical equipment: none
Weather: sunny and warm
Light Conditions: excellent; it was clear and the sun was very high overhead
Description:        Size of bird: crow-sized
(Description:)       Basic Shape: see below
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: see below
(Description:)            Bill Type: long, heavy, dark, pointed
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
- the bird had a very heavy large dark straight bill about 3" in length
- the bird had a very conspicuous crest, although I was unable to ascertain its color
- the bird was large, slightly larger than a crow and smaller than a raven
- the bird had a mostly pure white face with a black mask across its eyes
- the entire underside of the wings was pure white, except for the back edges and wing-tips. Other than that the bird was nearly all black.
- the bird had a neck, i.e., it's head was well in front of the leading edge of its wings, unlike sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks. The neck was much shorter and thicker than the necks of herons, egrets, and cormorants.
- the bird was a very strong flier and flew like a woodpecker with a flap-glide pattern, 4-8 strong deep flaps and then gliding with its wings close to its body
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: it flew very strong, straight, and purposefully and then disappeared from view down canyon before I could pull over and take another look at it
Habitat:  riparian with large cottonwoods, and oak brush woodlands lining the hillsides above the canyon bottom
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
the only thing remotely close to a bird of this description that occurs commonly in Utah is a belted kingfisher, which is a smaller bird with different coloration
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
none at the time, although I just returned from a birding trip to Georgia during which I saw a number of these birds. These Georgia sightings have reinforced my opinion that the bird I
saw and am reporting was in fact a pileated woodpecker
References consulted: The Sibley Guide to Birds; National Geographic Field Guide To The Birds Of North America, 3rd Ed.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Lu Giddings
Observer's address: 438 Ocampo Lane, Elk Ridge, UT
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none
Date prepared: July 4, 2006
Additional material:  
Additional comments: While I am confident that the bird I saw was a pileated woodpecker, it is my opinion that this report in not adequate to be accepted as a state first. I saw the bird clearly but quickly. There are
no photographs. No one else saw or has seen the bird. It would be bad science to accept this under the circumstances.