Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2017-32

Common name:

Brown Pelican

Scientific name: Pelecanus occidentalis
Date: 5/18/2017
Time:  9:10 am
Length of time observed: 7 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Unknown
Sex: Unknown
Location: Gunnison Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah
County: Box Elder
Latilong: 41.335138, -112.854639
Elevation: 4,212
Distance to bird: 500-800 feet
Optical equipment: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 35-350 mm zoom lens
Weather: Patchy clouds; 25.66 Inch Hg; 42 Fahrenheit; 7 mph wind;
Light Conditions: 387 Watts/square meter
Description:        Size of bird: Big but not as big as nearby American white pelicans
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Long bill, round body
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown/dark body, white head
(Description:)            Bill Type: Huge, ~1 foot
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Identified brown pelican from photos taken during an aerial census of the Gunnison Island American white pelican colony. The brown pelican was not seen at the time the photos were taken. Bird is dead, but recognized from photo. I've seen lots of dead American white pelicans of all age classes, and the brown pelican is in a typical dead position lying on its belly with wings splayed and head and neck flopped to the side. Body, wings and back of neck are all dark/brown. The only white feathers that are visible are on the top of the head. The gullar pouch appears whitish or gray.
Descriptive characteristics are based on the photos taken.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: NA
Behavior: Dead
Habitat:  Island nesting colony for American white pelicans, California gulls, and great blue herons.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
American white pelican is an all white pelican though black secondaries and primaries may be visible when wing is tucked. Brown pelican is all brown/dark with white only on top head. Back of neck is brown/dark.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
 I've seen many brown pelicans on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America during numerous trips. I work extensively with American white pelicans doing bird surveys, banding juveniles, and trapping adults.
References consulted:
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer:  John Neill
Observer's address: 4790 S. 7500 W.
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 5/23/2017
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: