Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2011-33

Common name:


Scientific name: Spiza americana
Date: June 26, 2011
Time: 11:30 am
Length of time observed: 2 hours at first observance; 8 hours throughout day
Number: 1
Age: unknown; first year male
Sex: male
Location: Fox Hunter Drive, Farmington, UT
County: Davis
Latilong: unknown
Elevation: unknown
Distance to bird: 25 feet
Optical equipment: Scope, 10x32 binoculars, Canon 50d camera
Weather: sunny
Light Conditions: excellent
Description:        Size of bird:  small to mid sized sparrow like
(Description:)       Basic Shape: sparrow like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: fresh, first year coloring, black spot on breast and yellow coloring seemed incomplete like a first year bird
(Description:)            Bill Type: thick, finch like
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Small bird in comparison to other birds in the same field of view (red-winged Blackbird, Western Kingbird, American Robin). Head was flat to rounded. Very sparrow like appearance. Beak large and bulky for the size of the bird. Beak finch like in shape. Breast was light yellow. Throat white directly under the beak with a black spot under the white which contrasts with the yellow breast. red/chestnut shoulder patch. Stripe over the eye yellow. Eye black. Back a dull gray brown. Lower chest dusky white.
(see photo)
Song or call & method of delivery: Song was the first indicator. Three notes were typical. Chup--Chup Chup.
Behavior: Sat just below the weed height line and sang. Responded once to tape of its song (Peterson Field Guides Western Bird Songs disc 2 track 44) by flying over head and landing on my roof top.
Habitat: Open field, meadow. Tall weeds and thistle.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Western Meadowlark--Size first indication. This bird appeared much smaller. Song was the second indication. We have singing meadowlarks at this location and song was clearly not melodic like the Western meadowlark. Beak was the third indication. Beak was heavy and thick especially for the size of the bird. Meadowlark beak much more pointed and thin in comparison to size.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen this species in migration in Texas and Arizona. Otherwise I have no other experience. I have never seen the bird in breeding. The bird called for about three days prior from a distance and I did not recognize it until I saw the bird.
References consulted: Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America to confirm sighting. Peterson Field Guides to Western Bird Songs to confirm song.
Description from: From memory
Observer: Tony G Jones
Observer's address: 817 North Foxhunter Drive, Farmington, UT 84025
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Other birdwatchers came throughout the day and appeared to observe the bird.
Date prepared: 6/26/2011
Additional material: Photo