Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-31

Common name:

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Scientific name: Calidris acuminata
Date: 10/13/07
Time: 12:30pm
Length of time observed: >1 minute
Number: 1
Age: juvenile
Sex: n/a
Location: Antelope Island Causeway - northside @ 1st bridge
County: Davis
Elevation: 4200'
Distance to bird: 180'
Optical equipment: 20-60x80 Nikon Scope, 10x42 NIkon Premier Binoculars, Lumix 7.2mp camera
Weather: Raining and windy
Light Conditions: Overcast
Description:        Size of bird: Similar to Pectoral Sandpiper
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Similar to Pectoral Sandpiper
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown, rufous, buffy, black and white
(Description:)            Bill Type: Sandpiper type
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird was just over a foot away from a Pectoral Sandpiper, the most likely species it would be confused with. Overall the bird was similar in size, it may have been slightly smaller, but not
noticeably. Through binoculars the most obvious distinction was a buff colored breast, with streaking in the neck. Side by side with a Pec, it was a nice comparison.

Through the scope the bird had a dark rufous/brown cap that stood out against a whitish supercillium that ran from the bill and faded into the feathers at the back of the head. The face appeared to be a light brown/beige color. There was faint streaking across the nape, through the
cheek and continuing onto the neck, fading out high on the breast, with the buffy breast continuing below and fading out at front of the belly.

The belly was white, the undertail coverts appeared white. I did not see any speckling, or faint streaks as portrayed in Sibley, but at the distance, and in teh light it may have been overlooked.

The back appeared to be darker than the brown/beige nape.

The wings stood out immediately through the binoculars, as having a lot of rufous making them appear brighter than the wings of the nearby Pec, even in the poor light. The tertials, scapulars and the coverts appeared to have bright rufous edging and dark centers giving the wings and
overall rufous appearance.

The tail was not observed.

The bird had a dark eye.

The legs were a dingy yellowish, the same color as the nearby Pectoral.

The bill was a medium length sandpiper bill, with a slight droop at the tip. The bill was dark colored with a paler base, maybe orangish or pink, but the color was not noticeable in the lighting.

(see photos)

Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: Was feeding within about a foot of a Pectoral Sandpiper.
Habitat: Shallow brackish water on the edge of a mudflat on the Great Salt Lake.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Elimination: Pectoral Sandpiper - Pecs, in all ages have a distinct dark breast that abruptly ends across the lower breast. This bird had darker neck feathers, but a buffy breast that washed out
into the lower breast. An adult Pec in basic would lack the rufous in the wings, and a juvenile Pec would not show nearly as much rufous in the wings as the bird in question.

juvenile Ruff - larger than both Pec and Sharp-tailed, with a buffy coloration over most of the body. No dark crown or rufous in teh wings.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have seen numerous Pectoral Sandpiper in Utah and Indiana. On the day in question nearly 15 Pec's were observed.

No previous experience with Sharp-tailed, it was a lifer.

No experience with Ruff.
References consulted: -The Sibley Guide to Birds
-Kauman's Birds of North America
-BDI online field guide and numerous other pictures online
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 at the time, I was the only observer. However, I received word that 6 others observed the bird on the 14th.
Date prepared: 10/14/07
Additional material: Photos
Additional Comments: