Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-67

Common name:

Veery (western)

Scientific name: Catharus fuscescens salicicola
Date: 30 August 2013
Time: ca. 2:30 PM
Length of time observed: 5 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: unknown
Location: Garr Ranch, Antelope Island State Park
County: Davis
Distance to bird: 8-12 meters
Optical equipment: Zeiss 10 X 42
Weather: sunny and windy afternoon
Light Conditions: in deep shade of willow trees, but bright sunny conditions outside
Description:        Size of bird: smallish thrush, 7-8 inches
(Description:)       Basic Shape: "thrush-shaped" with roundish head, thin bill, medium length tail, long primary tips, and long legs
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: brown above, paler below with spotted upper breast
(Description:)            Bill Type: thin, medium-length, straigt bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Field notes recorded at time of sighting and entered into eBird via BirdLog: "found in wet area at ranch oasis by Nick Bayly; seen at close range and photographed by Nick; uniform dark reddish brown upperparts, light to moderate spotting on throat and upper breast, but lacking warm buffy tones, dark malar mark conspicuous on plain face with thin whitish eye-ring; dusky grayish flanks. no calls heard."

Expanded notes based on memory and study of photographs on 16 September 2013:

Smallish thrush; obvious Catharus shape and plumage. Uniform dark reddish brown above, appearing uniform from head, back, to tail. slightly redder primaries visible in photos. Color of photos appears to be accurate; the bird did not appear nearly as reddish, or orangey red as typical Eastern Veeries.

Face appeared relatively plain for a Catharus, with very thin pale eye-ring and palish lores; auriculars warm brown and not gray. Bill distinctly bi-colored, with pale pinkish basal half of lower mandible and sides of upper mandible (tomia), with blackish tip. Dark malar mark very consipuous, bordering buffy white throat.

spotting on upper breast moderately strong, darkest in malar region, and suffused with pale buff -- not orangey buff as in many Eastern Veeries, and spotting overall was darker than typical Eastern Veery but not nearly as dark and bold as Swainson's or Hermit Thrush. Upper flanks strongly suffused with dusky gray, contrasting noticeably with whither center of breast, belly, and lower flanks.

wings held drooped below tail, accentuating the very long pointed primary extension on the folded wing. Aged as an adult by the lack of pale tips to any of the greater wing coverts. Long, thin, pinkish tarsi and pinkish feet.
Song or call & method of delivery: no vocalizations heard
Behavior: stood motionless for long time on branch in deep shade of willows above wet area. After ca. 5 minutes, flew off low through dense vegetation.
Habitat: understory of dense tall willows, cottonwoods, (and other trees?) at "oasis" on ranch.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Uniform reddish upperparts without contrasting color on tail suggested Veery and was not right for Hermit Thrush, which also would show more conspicuous eye-ring and much heavier spotting on upper breast. Seemed too reddish for any race of Swainson's Thrush -- Russet-backed would have bolder buffier eye-ring and lores, and buffier suffusion on upper breast and sides of throat, plus heavier spotting and warmer brown flanks. Gray-cheeked would have been duller and more grayish olive above, with grayer auriculars and lacking buffy cast to sides of throat.

Trickiest call is Western vs. Eastern Veery: darker overall color on back, dark malar, grayish upper flanks all suggest Western Veery.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Rosenberg -- Much (40+ years) experience identifying Veery and other Catharus thrushes, mostly in eastern U.S., but also during migration on LA/TX coast, Central and South America. Less experience with Western Veery, but have seen and photographed them on breeding grounds in eastern Arizona (1970s) and Montana. Bayly has extensive experience mist-netting Veeries and other Catharus in Colombia and Belize, with special attention to identification to identification and origins of Catharus during migration [NOTE: Bayly found this bird and identified it as a Western Veery]
References consulted: Consulted photographs of Veery and other Catharus on-line while preparing description; no references consulted in the field, other than the photos taken of this bird on Nick Bayly's camera screen.
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Ken Rosenberg, Nick Bayly, Oliver Komar, Camila Gomez
Observer's address: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Nick Bayly - first found and identified, and took sev photos; Oliver Komar, Camila Gomez
Date prepared: 16 September 2013
Additional material: Photos by Nick Bayly, who first found and identified this bird.
Additional_Comments: [eBird record]