Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2009-12

Common name:

Red-necked Grebe

Scientific name: Podiceps grisegena
Date: 05/07/09
Time: 10:00 am
Length of time observed: 45 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Brigham City, UT
County: Box Elder
Latilong: 112 5' 39.7"W, 41 25' 22"N
Elevation: 4202
Distance to bird: 100'
Optical equipment: Swarovski Spotting Scopy 20 X 60 Lens
Weather: Mostly sunny, calm winds, 57 degrees F
Light Conditions: Morning sunlight
Description:        Size of bird: similar size to western grebe ; larger than nearby feeding coots
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Body structure similar to western grebe;
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: dark body and back , black head, large white cheek patch, reddish/cinnamon color on side of necks; with creamy white breast/chest part that was above the water line
(Description:)            Bill Type: Pointed bill; dark on top (maxilla) with a yellow manible near the head of the bird; mandible darkened out from yellow to brown/black as neared tip
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Observed surface feeding midges below a water-control-structure that was discharging water into Willard Spur.  Bird appeared about size of nearby (10-20') feeding western grebes, with same body structure appearance.  However, this bird appeared as overall dark from a distance which made me take a closer view with binoculars and then spotting scope.  Upon close inspection, the large white cheek patch was obvious along with reddish color on side of neck.
(see photos and Field Notes)
Song or call & method of delivery: NA
Behavior: Was swimming and actively feeding midges from the surface of the water.  Would periodically observe the webbed feet trailing the bird as it repositioned itself to need feeding location.
Habitat: Wetland habitat below a water control structure which was actively passing water at about 300 cfs.  Water is about 8-10' in the immediate area where the bird was.  Within 10 feet of a dike.  Nearby vegetation (20-50 feet) included, alkali bulrush, phragmites and salt cedar.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Feeding in/among western and clark's grebes.  Because it had an overall dark silhouette but otherwise same body shape as the aforementioned grebes, that's what made me take a closer look. The sides appeared dark compared to a western/Clark's grebe, it had a large white cheek patch, with a reddish/cinnamon colored neck whereas the other grebes mentioned have white necks as viewed from the side with black going down the back of the neck.  Bill color was also distinctive in the red-necked grebe.  It appeared overall dark compared to the yellow and orange/yellow of the western and clark's grebes.  Upon closer inspection, I could make out the yellow toward the base of the mandible.  Long, pointed bill, large body size and color patterns distinguished this bird from nearby coots.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Believe this to be a life bird.  No prior experience.
References consulted: Sibley guide to birds
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Bridget Olson
Observer's address: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 2155 W. Forest St. Brigham City, UT  84302
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Betsy Beneke, John Cavitt
Date prepared: 06/02/09
Additional material: Photos, Drawing