Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2015-50

Common name:

Scarlet Tanager

Scientific name: Piranga olivacea
Date: 25October2015
Time: 5:00PM
Length of time observed: 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Unknown
Sex: Male
Location: Utah State Highway 128 at mile 13.8
County: Grand
Latilong: 38.681636,-109.4350505
Elevation: ~4,025 feet
Distance to bird: 15 - 30 feet
Optical equipment: 8x42 binoculars and iPhone camera
Weather: Clear
Light Conditions: Moderate light/shade because of cliffs on the other side of the road
Description:        Size of bird: Medium sized perching bird
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Stocky
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Greenish/gray/ yellow upperparts, yellow underparts, dark wings and top of tail
(Description:)            Bill Type: Short and somewhat stout
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Medium sized bird. Strong, not bright, yellow underparts throat to tail. Head and back greenish/gray/yellow. Bill fairly large and pale. Dark wings and tail. No wingbars.
(see photo)
Song or call & method of delivery: Was not vocalizing
Behavior: Gleaning either insects or seeds in the ragweed between the road and the river
Habitat: Colorado River corridor. Overlook at small side-channel. Riparian.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
American Goldfinch smaller and brighter yellow.
Western Tanager slightly larger overall - winter male has dark back, winter female has grayish back. Both have wingbars. Late in season for Western Tanager.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have no experience with the Scarlet Tanager. I am quite familiar with the Western Tanager, who is a breeding bird in my area.
References consulted: Online Birds of N America (Cornell)
Nat Geo Field Guide to the Birds of NA
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Stephen J. Heinrich
Observer's address: 177 Shafer Lane HC64 Box 2913 Castle Valley Utah 84532-9136
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Glenn Kincaid saw the photo and alerted me to look at winter Scarlet Tanager.
Kenneth Frisch identified the bird from a photo.
Date prepared: 13December2015
Additional material: Photos
Additional_Comments: I first saw the bird at 30'. Good views with 8x bins for 10 minutes - full frontal perspective. I could see the wings were dark, but the bird didn't change position enough to see if there were wingbars. It disappeared in the brush, then several minutes later reappeared at <15'and I took a snapshot with an iPhone. I initially thought it was a late Western Tanager, and sent the photo to Glenn. His first call was Western Tanager, and I submitted the observation as such to eBird. It was after that when I saw another note from Glenn suggesting winter Scarlet Tanager. After the bird showed on eBird's Utah Rare Report, I received a note from Kenneth, who saw the report and noted the lack of wingbars pointing to a Scarlet ID.