Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2018-05

Common name:

Rusty Blackbird

Scientific name: Euphagus carolinus
Date: Jan 21, 2018
Time: 1 p.m.
Length of time observed: Total ~ 30 min
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Female
Location: Farmington Bay WMA, S.E. Access, N. Perimeter Rd.
County: Davis
Elevation: 4213 ft.
Distance to bird:  <50 ft.
Optical equipment: 8 x 42 binos, 85 mm scope w/20-60x zoom
Weather: Low 30's; cold and sunny w/some clouds.
Light Conditions: Sunny with occasional passing clouds over sun. Light at observer's back.
Description:        Size of bird: Same as female Brewer's Blackbird in same tree
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Small passerine
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Solid, dark grayish with rust accents/overtones
(Description:)            Bill Type: Insect-eating, pointed and slightly decurved
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Same size as female Brewer's Blackbird in flock numbering 3-25 individuals. Others were larger males or male RWBB. Dark, dusky bird, but still the palest one in the flock.
Bare parts: Black bill and feet; eye palest yellow.
Head: Bill not quite half as long as the head from front to back; bill slightly decurved. Forehead puffy and crown rounded with a bull-necked appearance. Concentration of rust color in matched spots on the puffy forehead above the bill, and on the auriculars.
Body: Rusty back, dark gray or blackish wings with tertials and greater coverts edged in rust. Gray rump, black tail.
Throat palest of all plumage, but only slightly paler than breast. Breast gray with golden-buffy wash and faint suggestion of blurriness or streaks; just not solid.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Hard to tell who was talking in a flock with Brewer's.
Behavior: Loafing with a flock of Brewer's and Red-winged Blackbirds in a Russian Olive next to a canal with open water. Seemed to prefer a lower perch than most of the flock, also emerged from the canal twice. Flushed with the flock three times and flew east into the Bountiful Landfill pond lined with dead willows where there was a combined thousands of other blackbirds, starlings and crows. Returned to same olive twice after initial sighting.
Habitat: Wetland.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
From Brewer's Blackbird: Review bird had a pale yellow iris; thinner, decurved bill rather than straight-edged bill; significant rufous tones on head, back and wings.
From Red-winged and Tri-colored Blackbird, European Starling and cowbird sp: Review bird had a pale yellow iris.
From grackle sp: Review bird same size/structure as Brewer's; thin, shorter, decurved bill; significant rufous tones on head, back and wings; golden-buffy wash on breast.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
None with Rusty; plenty with all but Tri-colored Blackbird and cowbirds rare to Utah.
References consulted: Sibley
Description from: From memory
Observer: Kristin Purdy
Observer's address: Ogden, Utah
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: Jan 21, 2018
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: