Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2006-

Common name:

Tufted Duck

Scientific name: Aythya fuligula
Date: 06/12/1998
Time: 7:00 pm
Length of time observed: 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Male
Location: In a pond along the road between Highway 89 and Alton, Utah. It was on the eastern-most lake of the three small lakes that are 1-2 miles east of Highway 89.
County: Kane
Distance to bird: Between 20-30 yards
Optical equipment: Leica 10 x 42 Binoculars and Kowa TSN-2 Scope with 60x Zoom.
Weather: Clear and no wind
Light Conditions: Excellent - This was around 7:00 pm nearing the longest day of the year. We were looking at the duck in a southeastern direction with the sun coming from the west.
Description:        Size of bird: Very similar to the Lesser Scaups which were nearby.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Shape of a duck
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Dark with the exception of the white flanks.
(Description:)            Bill Type: That of a duck.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The Tufted Duck clearly had the long tuft coming down the back of his head. The Lesser Scaups that it were with it and Ring-necked Ducks that are fairly similar do not have that tuft. I was able to observe the white sides and the dark back of the Tufted Duck, which also distinguishes it from a scaup and a ring-necked duck. In addition, I noted the lack of a white spur on the shoulder which a ring-necked duck has.
(see photo)
Song or call & method of delivery: None observed.
Behavior: The duck was fairly close to the shore along the road when we first arrived, but it slowly moved toward the south-eastern shore with the Scaup. It never dove or attempted to feed. It was calm with the exception of slowly swimming away from us as we observed it.
Habitat: The duck was in the eastern-most lake out of the three lakes as you drive to Alton. These are all small lakes along the road with calm water and tall vegetation along the back edges.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The Tufted Duck was with Lesser Scaups.
The Tufted Duck clearly had the long tuft coming down the back of his head, which the scaup do not have. It had a darker back than the Lesser Scaup.
It was also not a tufted duck x scaup hybrid because the tuft was much longer than the pictures show for a hybrid.
It was also not a Ring-necked Duck which has a white ring next to the black tip on the bill and a white spur on the shoulder. The Tufted Duck was also more white on the sides than Ring-necked Ducks are.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I observed a Tufted Duck at the Hagermann Fish Hatchery in Idaho on January 19, 1997 with Mark Stackhouse, David Wheeler, and several other birders while on a trip to Ketchum ID to see a Siberian Accentor. At that time, it was with hundreds and hundreds of ring-necked ducks so I was familiar with the need to look for the long tuft, the lack of a shoulder spur and the whiteness of the flanks. I had also seen Scaup on several occasions, which also don't have the key markings I was looking for, i.e., the long tuft, whiteness of the flanks, and lack of a shoulder spur.
References consulted: The references I used were Peterson's Western Field Guide and National Geographic 2nd Edition
Description from: From memory
Observer: Larene Wyss
Observer's address: 2240 E. 4500 S. #18, Salt Lake City, UT 84117
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: An out-of-state birder first identified it and called the hotline. Mark Stackhouse received the message and drove down either June 11th or June 12th and identified it. Mark called me to let me know about the bird, and I drove down with Lyn Christiansen, who was also able to observe it at the time I did. Mark was able to take pictures of it.
Date prepared: Although this submission is being finalized and submitted on June 11, 2006, I originally completed the form on September 12, 2004 and saved it.
Additional material: Photos (one of the 5 or 6 taken has been found)
Additional comments: After a discussion with David Wheeler on 6/10/2006, I was convinced that I needed to submit the record. I have always hoped that Mark Stackhouse would submit the record because of the pictures he took to document it as well as his ability to record in more detail the description of the Tufted Duck. I remember the sighting vividly, but I apologize for not being able to be more scientific in a written description.