Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-44

Common name:

Baird's Sparrow

Scientific name: Ammodramus bairdii
Date: 10-05-07
Time: 10:30 am
Length of time observed: On and off for about 1 hour
Number: 1
Location: Lytle Ranch
County: Washington
Distance to bird: Within a couple feet.
Optical equipment: 10X42 B & L Elites
Weather: Partly cloudy skies and becoming windy.
Light Conditions: Good
Description:        Size of bird: Small
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Sparrow
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown and white.Yellow cast to head
(Description:)            Bill Type: Conical
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird was flat headed with a rather large looking bill and a yellowish cast to head with fine dark streaks on crown and nape and a yellowish central crown stripe. Dark spots on the rear of
the auricular and a distinct thin dark malar stripe that connected into a dark area ( spot )on the sides of the upper breast neck area. There was dark streaking on the sides of the upper breast and the throat was whitish.  But that was all I was able to see of the bird on the ground despite
chasing it around for about an hour. When I flushed the bird out of the grass ( several times at very close range ) I could see that it had pale outer rectrices.Not distinct like a Vesper sparrow but I could see them.  The tail length of the bird in flight didn't look long but wasn't as short looking like other Ammodramus sparrows. It looked like it fit the size of the bird.
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: The bird was very secretive and I about had to step on it to get it to fly. It would only fly about 20 to 30 feet low to the ground in a somewhat jerky not direct flight and then dive back into the
grass. When I tried to relocate it would have moved from where it had landed.
Habitat: Orchard with 6" to 1' high grass surrounded by desert scrub habitat.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The most similar that I thought it might be was a Grasshopper Sparrow. But the head color and the dark malar ending in the dark area on the sides of the upper breast, neck didn't fit even a juvenile Grasshopper. Also the tail in flight didn't fit a Grasshopper Sparrow.

A Savannah Sparrow wouldn't have been so secretive after chasing it around for that long. They don't have the flat headed large bill look of this bird or the yellow cast to the head.

LeConte's Sparrow Have a different head pattern and look small and short tailed.

Henslow's Sparrow also have a different head pattern.

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've seen Baird's Sparrows on there wintering grounds in Arizona acting very much like this did.
References consulted: Sibley and Sparrows of the US and Canada.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Larry Tripp
Observer's address: 131 N. Butch Cassidy Trl
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 11-18-07
Additional material:  
Additional Comments:  I didn't see the bird well enough to tell if it was an Adult or HY bird.