Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2013-99

Common name:

Rusty Blackbird

Scientific name: Euphagus carolinus
Date: 12-20-2013
Time: 4:15pm
Length of time observed: 25 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Unknown
Sex: Male
Location: West of Reese in Weber County
County: Weber
Elevation: 4317
Distance to bird: Approx 28 yards.
Optical equipment: Pentax DCF SP 10x50 Binos, Canon Powershot sx50 hs Camera, Vortex Impact Spotter.
Weather: Hazy and overcast.
Light Conditions: Flat, low light.
Description:        Size of bird: Around 9". Same as surrounding Brewer's Blackbirds.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Blackbird.
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Dark w/ Rusty tinge to most.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Blackbird. Slightly longer and thinner than surrounding Brewer's.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Rusty cap, Buffy eyebrow, yellow eye, black eye line, Buffy tinge to breast, Rusty tinge to back, Buffy tinge to flanks, Buffy rump, tertials and coverts had Buffy tinge as well. Approx same size and shape as surrounding Brewer's Blackbirds but with a thinner, shorter bill and what seemed to be a shorter tail.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Never heard any sound whatsoever that I could discern from other birds present.
Behavior: Was moving between the top of the trough to the ground below. It only dropped into the trough twice during the time I observed. About 70% of the time it was feeding on the ground below the trough.
Habitat: Was observed at a cattle feedlot surrounded by marsh and upland grass.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Yellow eye eliminated all blackbird sp except for Brewer's and Grackles. Both species of Grackles were eliminated by size, it was almost identical in size to surrounding Brewer's. I eliminated female Brewer's by plumage and eye color. I eliminated adult male Brewer's by coloration of plumage. The immature Brewer's was eliminated by adding a few field marks together. The head pattern of the bird being reported was very distinctive with a rusty colored cap. The throat was pale, eyebrow very Buffy with a black eye line. The wing coverts and tertials had a Buffy tinge to them while the immature Brewer's are always black. Had Buffy tinge to feather ends throughout breast, flanks, back and rump. Bill seemed a little thinner and longer than the surrounding Brewer's and the tail seemed a little shorter. When the bird finally flew away it left by itself.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Seen multiple times while growing up in Southern Illinois but none since I started birding.
References consulted: Internet (Cornell Lab of Ornithology), Nat Geo Birds of North America and Peterson's Birds of Western North America.
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Mike Hearell
Observer's address: 173 W 1825 N, North Ogden, UT 84414
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: None.
Date prepared: 12-29-13
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: The photos attached with this report are very poor due to the lighting conditions at the time of observation. The bird looked much different through my binoculars and spotting scope.