Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2016-25

Common name:

Varied Bunting

Scientific name: Passerina versicolor
Date: 8/27/16
Time: 7:30 pm
Length of time observed: 4-5 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Unknown
Sex: Female type
Location: West Weber 700 N Trap
County: Weber
Elevation: 4120'
Distance to bird: 11'
Optical equipment: Pentax Binoculars, Canon sx50 hs camera
Weather: Clear/sunny
Light Conditions: Well lit.
Description:        Size of bird: 5-6"
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Finch/bunting
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown
(Description:)            Bill Type: Finch/bunting
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Overall brownish bird with slightly darker brown upper parts. Dark eye absent of any eye-ring. Bill was fleshy-gray with a curved culmen. Wings were absent of any pattern or wing-bars with a short primary projection. Breast absent of any streaking. Gray legs.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: N/A
Behavior: Sitting in top 1/3 of a Russian Olive, flew off out of sight and then returned a few seconds later before flying off for good.
Habitat: Row of Russian Olives bordering a field of Sagebrush and weeds.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Painted Bunting- female-type would have a greenish overall tint, culmen would not be as curved, and primary projection would be longer.
Indigo Bunting- female type would have light wing-bars, pale throat, streaking on breast and on flanks, straighter culmen, longer primary projection.
Lazuli Bunting- female type would have distinct wing-bars, much longer primary projection, straighter culmen.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Of the Buntings found in the ABA area, only the Painted Bunting is a species I haven't seen with my own eyes. I've seen multiple VABU while birding on multiple occasions in SE AZ. Indigo Buntings are quite common in my home State of IL.
References consulted: Nat Geo, Sibley's, and Petersen's Field Guides. Multiple on line references, and asked for opinions of multiple birders with more experience than me.
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Mike Hearell
Observer's address: 255 W 2700 N, Pleasant View, UT
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Taylor Abbott
Date prepared: 9/2/16
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: I took my time with this report. Considering this would be a first record for UT if vetted, I made many attempts to get other's opinions before submitting. I didn't receive any feedback that stated they thought this wasn't a VABU.