Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-10

Common name:


Scientific name: Spiza americana
Date: 05/20/2007
Time: 4:00 pm
Length of time observed: 20 seconds
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex:  female
Location: Lytle Ranch Preserve (south end of the orchard)
County: Washington
Elevation: 2400 feet
Distance to bird: 30 feet
Optical equipment: 10x42 Nikon Binocs and a Canon Camera w/ 400mm lens
Weather: Windy and hot
Light Conditions: Bright and sunny.
Description:        Size of bird: Sparrow sized
(Description:)       Basic Shape: like a house sparrow
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Drab gray nd brown with a little rufous, yellow and black
(Description:)            Bill Type: large, kind of like a small grosbeak bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Rather drab gray overall. The breast had a yellow wash and the shoulder had a rufous wash. The bird was sitting in the same position the entire time, not allowing a view of the back or tail, before it flew off to the south.

The head had a rather unique pattern, but due to the flattened crown I was unable to see the supposed dark crown. However, the bird had a pale supercilium with a slight yellow wash above the eye. The eye was dark, with a slighlty dark, thin eyeline behind the eye.

The bird had a whitish malar with a slight yellow wash near the middle. The bird had a black lateral throat stripe and a white throat to complete the unique head pattern.

The bill was rather large and a blue-gray color.

(see picture)
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: sitting on a branch for about 20 seconds before flying away.
Habitat: Orchard at the edge of a cottonwood based riparian area, in the middle of Utah's Mojave desrt.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Several sparrow may look similar, but none have the combination of a rufous shoulder and yellow breast wash.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Had never seen a female Dickcissel before, but have seen numerous males in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
References consulted: Sibley Guide to Birds
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Tim Avery
Observer's address: Salt Lake City, Utah
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none
Date prepared: 05/26/2007
Additional material: Photo
Additional comments: