Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 201

Common name:

Pacific Golden-Plover

Scientific name: Pluvialis fulva
Date: 08-29-2012
Time: 1:30pm
Length of time observed: 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: unknown
Sex: unknown
Location: Antelope Island Causeway between mile post 5 and 6,south of the causeway.
County: Davis
Elevation: 4,200
Distance to bird: 200 yards
Optical equipment: Alpen 20-60X Spotting Scope, Canon Sx20 is Digital Camera
Weather: mostly sunny, gentle breeze
Light Conditions: good
Description:        Size of bird: Large Plover
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Plover like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Very richly colored with golden,rufus brown
(Description:)            Bill Type: Short and thin
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
A Pluvialis plover in no-breeding plumage, with a thin bill and strong supercillium, and a very rich golden-rufus-brown color and a pale belly. We watched it for quite awhile through the scopes, and compared it to drawings and photos in our 'Sibley' and 'Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide' and concluded unanimously that Pacific Golden Plover was the best match. We looked closely at the tail/wing length ratio, and the wing tips just barely were longer than the tail
(see photos and video)
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: Foraging in shallow brackish water. Standing still,running a short distance,then plucking at presumed insects on the ground.
Habitat: In the Great Salt Lake, in shallow brackish water near mudflats. It was south of the causeway,so not in the pure salt water of the lake,but in the Farmington Bay section with salt water diluted by fresh water
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Upon seeing the bird,I said "There's a plover,lets scope it, but its probably just a Killdeer". When we scoped it,it obviously was a Pluvialis plover in non-breeding plumage. We looked at it for awhile,and Pat thought it looked like a Golden Plover. I said "my instinct says Golden Plover,but my mind says its probably just a Black-bellied",so we pulled out both books and read the descriptions and looked at the drawing and photographs,comparing them with the bird in the scopes. The bird had a long thin bill,a strong supercillium,and was not gray,ruling out Black Bellied,so upon arriving at a Golden Plover,we looked at the books and saw the differences in color and the tail wing length ratio. There was nothing dull or gray about this bird,it was very richly colored golden rufus brown,and I though wing tips were about as long as the tail. Ned said they were slightly longer, but not by very much. Ned also though the pale belly on the bird also was a better match for Pacific. After consulting the books and looking at the bird for several minutes,we all came to agreement that the bird was a Pacific Golden Plover. Lifer for me,Mike and Pat.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
None with Pacific Golden Plover. I saw 2 American Golden Plovers this spring on the AIC and hundreds of Black-bellied Plovers over the years. Ned had seen them before,although I don't know the details of his sighting.
References consulted:  'The Sibley Guide to Birds,D.A. Sibley 2000, 'Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide,D. Paulson 2005
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: Pat Jividen, Ned Bixler, Mike Corrigan
Date prepared: 08-30-2012
Additional material: Photos; Video
Additional_Comments: I will send low quality photos and video to the webmaster. Although they don't conclusively show the wing/tail length ratio,they do show its a Golden Plover(no black on the base of the wing when it raises its wings in the video),and very richly colored.So they are supportive of what we saw,but not conclusive in them selves.