Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2004-37

Common name:

Red-necked Grebe

Scientific name: Podiceps grisegena
Date: November 2 and 4, 2004
Time: 12:15-2:30 pm
Length of time observed: 2 1/4 hours
Number: 1
Age: Juvenile
Sex: Unknown
Location: Pineview Reservoir, within a mile of the dam
County: Weber
Latilong: N 41 degrees 155 minutes W 111 degrees 495 minutes
Elevation: 5200 feet
Distance to bird: Closest: 300-400 feet
Optical equipment: Zeiss 85 mm Diascope with 20-60x zoom eyepiece
Weather: Clear and cold, temperatures in the 40s
Light Conditions: Bright and sunny
Detailed description of bird: Upper mandible of bill was yellow on the sides with black mottling on the dorsal surface. Lower mandible was bright yellow. Crown was very dusky-dark and mostly rounded, but with changes in posture and after resurfacing sometimes a slight point appeared at the back of the crown. Eye was black. Cheek was generally white with two thin black stripes running from the bill area to the nape. From the back, crown appeared wide and blocky. Neck was a washed-out rust on the sides and paler to the front. Rust color was faint and patchy on the back of the neck and patches were interspersed with dusky dark gray patchiness. Back and sides were dusky gray. Bird appeared thick-necked and was
sometimes difficult to discern (with unaided eye) against the water when it surfaced at a distance due to the dusky color. The grebe was easily
1/3 smaller than the Common and Pacific Loons present for comparison.

(Nov 4)  Sighting: Grebe preened and shook its feathers, giving good looks at white secondary flight feathers that contrasted strongly with the dusky gray upper wing. Very brief view of underside of wing showed flash of white. With feather shaking, undertail coverts appeared more mottled gray/white, as opposed to only gray during original sighting. Grebe scratched its neck with one foot; foot was dusky-dark gray and bright yellow between toes. The yellow color could be seen even under the water as the grebe folded its toes up and began to swim again. The toes were individual and lobed, not webbed.

Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: Grebe swam and dove during the entire observation period--no resting with bill tucked or preening. It looked fairly serene. Grebe would remain at the surface 5-10 seconds between dives. Occasionally the grebe turned an eye to the sky when a gull passed overhead. The grebe dove when a Ring-billed Gull began to harass it and the gull actually landed on the surface of the water where the grebe's water rings appeared. The grebe easily covered a half mile each way during the 2 1/4 hours of observation time.

(Nov 4)  Preened and consumed a 3-4-inch fish.

Habitat: Deep water, most narrow channel of the reservoir leading to the dam
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Western/Clark's Grebe: Review grebe was lacking brilliant white on front and sides of neck that tends to "flash" at a distance. Review grebe's eye was black; Aechmorphorus grebes' eyes are red. In addition, the review grebe did not show a strong black stripe down the back of the neck. The review grebe appeared short-or fat-necked and more wide-headed. Unlike either Western or Clark's Grebes, the bill was bi-colored--bright yellow on the lower mandible and sides of the upper mandible, and mottled black on the dorsal surface of the upper mandible. The two Aechmorphorus grebes' bills are a uniform color. The review grebe also showed two prominent thin black stripes through its light cheek, stretching from just behind the bill area through the auricular to the nape. Aechmophorus grebe juveniles don't have striped faces. Finally, the review grebe had a rust-colored neck, especially on the sides.

Horned Grebe: Review grebe was lacking Horned Grebe's bright white cheek and red eye. In addition, review grebe's bill was long and yellow
and black instead of whitish/grayish. Review grebe did not show any mottled white on the flanks or undertail coverts.

Pied-billed Grebe: Review grebe was rusty-necked instead of brown, had a large head with a sometimes-visible rear point, and a thick neck
unlike the Pied-billed. In addition, review grebe stayed out in the open water of the channel instead of keeping to the sides near the shore as
Pied-billed Grebes tend to do.

Red-throated Loon: Review Grebe was rusty on the sides of the neck and somewhat on the back of the neck, instead of on the front of the throat as is the Red-throated Loon. Review grebe also showed significant yellow on the bill and was lacking white except somewhat on the
black-striped cheek.

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Life bird for both of us. Glenn has seen all of the comparison species above and Kris has seen all but the Red-throated Loon.
References consulted: The Sibley Guide to Birds
Description from: From memory
Observer: Glenn Barlow and Kristin Purdy
Observer's address: Glenn: 107 N. Village Way, Fruit Heights, UT 84037
Kris: 1961 Arapaho Circle, Ogden, UT, 84403-4648
Observer's e-mail address:,
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Merrill Webb, Lu Giddings, Dennis Shirley
Date prepared: November 2, 2004    (General Public)
Additional material:  
Additional comments: