Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 201

Common name:

Bronzed Cowbird

Scientific name: Molothrus aeneus
Date: 05-19-2012
Time: 8:48am
Length of time observed: 10 seconds
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: male
Location: off the road that goes from Rockville to Grafton,a short distance up creek that crosses the road, where the dirt road that goes over Smithsonian Butte turns off.
County: Washington
Elevation: 3900 feet
Distance to bird: 50 yards
Optical equipment: 10X50 Bushnell binoculars, Cannon SX20 Digital Camera
Weather: Clear and sunny,70F
Light Conditions: Conditions: excellent
Description:        Size of bird: Large passerine
(Description:)       Basic Shape: blackbird like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: jet black
(Description:)            Bill Type:  long and stout
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Saw a blackbird fly over head, but it made an unfamiliar call,so when it landed in a tree nearby I looked at it in my binoculars and didn't see a brown head as one would expect for a Brown-headed Cowbird, so I snapped a photo. It then flew off. Upon looking at the photo, the bird was jet black with a red eye.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: a strange slurred whistle,similar to but with a different tone than a Brown-headed Cowbirds. Made in flight.
Behavior: Flew over head and then landed in a tree nearby,only to fly off again a moment later
Habitat: Along a creek with running water and big cottonwoods, in a Sand sagebrush,Indigo Bush,Blackbrush sandy desert area,near the Virgin River
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
No other species of icterid in Utah has a red eye. Great-tailed Grackle would be much larger, Red-winged Blackbird would have red on the shoulders,Yellow-headed Blackbird would have a yellow head, Brown-headed Cowbird would have a dark eye and brown head, European Starling would have a yellow bill.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
References consulted: Sibley guide to birds,2000 D.A. Sibley
Description from: From memory
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South SLC,UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none
Date prepared: 05-23-12
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: Will send photos to webmatser. They are of poor quality, but if cropped to full extent the red eye is apparent.