Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2010-48

Common name:

Purple Sandpiper

Scientific name: Calidris maritima
Date: 11-28-10
Time: 4:00
Length of time observed: 2 - 3 hours total
Number: 1
Age: first-winter
Location: Sand Hollow State Park
County: Washington
Latilong: 19
Elevation: ~ 880 m
Distance to bird: 3 - 100 m
Optical equipment: 8-42 binoculars, 20x scope
Weather: various, from heavily overcast, snowy, and very windy, to sunny and calm
Light Conditions: various, originally heavily overcast late afternoon
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Medium sized chunky sandpiper about the size of a nearby Dunlin but shorter and plumper, with relatively short legs. Coloration, overall very dark on back and bright white undersides. Head including nape, crown, and cheeks an even dark gray with white eyering and diffused white patch extending between eyes, immediately above the bill. Throat pale immediately below the bill. Upper breast dark gray/ becoming more speckled with white towards belly. Scalloping on breast extending in fine lines onto white underparts and gradually getting smaller towards flanks. Fine streaking extending onto bright white undertail coverts. Flanks and belly bright white. Mantle dark gray / black with slight pale edging on scapulars. Wings black with bright white edging on coverts and tertials. Folded wing relatively short - not extending to tip of tail - with fine white edging on primaries. In flight, upper surface very dark with bold, thin, white wing stripe and dark tail, slightly paler at base and outer rectrices. Flight quick and direct with rapid wing beats. Bill relatively long, thicker at the base and tapering towards the tip. Culmen slightly curved downward toward tip. Base of bill orange gradually darkening towards black tip. Legs and feet orange with dark nails.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: short scratchy call given when flushed
Behavior: feeding behaviour on sandbar very similar to nearby Dunlin. Constantly moving while foraging. Occasionally feeding along edge of sandstone outcrops and rip/rap surface of dam, moving nimbly and quickly along rocks.
Habitat: Reservoir, including all perimeter habitats including sand and gravel bars, sandy shoreline, sandstone outcroppings, and rip/rap surface of dam.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Distinguished from Rock Sandpiper by more uniform dark gray head, neck, and mantle (less speckled), finer streaking extending in rows down sides towards flanks, relatively long bill with orange base, and orange legs and feet (rather than greenish yellow).
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
limited and dated with Purple Sandpiper (observed frequently years ago while living in New Hampshire), a bit more familiar with Rock Sandpiper.
References consulted: Identification following the sighting confirmed by various field guides, and Paul Lehman, Jon Dunn, Guy McCaskie, Kimball Garrett, Steve Summers, Greg Scyphers, Ned Brinkley, Kevin Karlson, Martin Meyers, and others.
Description from:  
Observer: Rick Fridell
Observer's address: Hurricane, UT
Observer's e-mail address: rfridell[at]
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Rob Dobbs
Date prepared: 12-01-10
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: Still present through at least 12-01-2010