Verification of
Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Addition Material

Utah Bird Records Committee

Rec. # 2014-009
Rose-throated Becard

Date:  Received 23 Mar 2014 [There is no date on the article].
Type of material:
 A story or article written about this sighting
Source of Information: Elva Carol Musig Christian


By Elva Carol Musig Christian

     I live in St. George, Utah.  The Virgin River runs through the valley just south of the main part of town with a few small streams which empty into it.  The Virgin and some small tributaries are in many place lined with cottonwood trees and thick groves of tamarisk.  I love walking on the trails in this area.  I am very interested in looking for and identifying the birds I see or hear.  One morning in April 2000 while waling on the trail on the north side of the river I suddenly stopped my friend and whispered, "Stop, look at that bird!"  I knew it was one I had never seen before.  My friend, not knowing much about birds, in an uncaring voice said, "It's just a Robin."  I replied, "Oh no!  That is no Robin!  It is a bird I have never seen before!"  then I explained the differences to her.  Thankfully, the bird did not fly away and I took good mental notes of the markings on it.  It was smaller than a Robin (6 or 7 inches) and more slender.  The back was dark gray with a black, slightly large head.  The breast pale gray, but the most distinguishing feature was the bright, pinkish rose of the throat and a little onto the upper chest.  That  is what grabbed my attention and I knew I had never seen that before.  I was so excited I could hardly wait to get home and look it up in my bird book.  I have PETERSON FIELD GUIDES -- WESTERN BIRDS, Third Edition.  When I came to the picture of the male Rose-throated Bacard it seemed to jump right off the page at me.  There it was! I knew that was the one, without a doubt!  I read the "range" for it and was surprised that it is so far from here, but I definitely knew it was the bird I saw!  The habitat included "river groves" and it was in the grove of trees of the Virgin River, in some Cottonwoods, so that was right.  I also have NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC FIELD GUIDE to the BIRDS of AMERICA.  I also looked in it as it covers the whole United States, but the Rose-throated Bacard was the only bird it could be in that one too.
     Then I noticed the female Rose-throated Bacard in the book and realized that was the bird I had seen a few days before which I could not identify right then!  It was in the tamarisk and Cottonwoods near the For Peirce Wash which had a pretty good stream in it right then and empties into the Virgin River just a little farther down.  It is beside the St. George Golf Course, and is a little less than a mile from where I saw the male Rose-throated Bacard.  When I had seen that bird I was puzzled as to what it was.  I noticed that it was about 6 or 7 inches, brown with a dark cap and light tan breast and collar around the neck.  I was too busy that day when I got home to look it up in the books.  I was excited to find that it was a female Rose-throated Bacard.  I suppose they were mates.  I was never fortunate enough to see them again.
     What a blessing it is to have enough knowledge of birds to realize when we are seeing something very special instead of thinking it is "just another Robin" like my friend thought!



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