Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2011-29

Common name:

Red-necked Grebe

Scientific name: Podiceps grisegena
Date: June 18, 2011
Time: 11:30 am
Length of time observed: 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult Breeding Plumage
Sex: ?
Location: West end of Hyrum Dam, near Utah StatePark Camp ground
County: Cache
Elevation: 4600 feet
Distance to bird: 100 feet at closest
Optical equipment: Swarovski EL 8.5x42
Weather: clear, no wind,
Light Conditions: high thin clouds, light good not perfect
Description:        Size of bird: grebe, loon, duck size
(Description:)       Basic Shape: medium long neck, duck shaped body, straight long bill
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: black crown & nape. white throat, red neck , brownish gray back and sides to water line
(Description:)            Bill Type: long, parallel to water, did not raise like a loon
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird came very close to shore. The black cap came half way down the head, a tuft was visable at the back of the crown. The rest of the head was pure white. At the bottom of the throat the neck color was rusty red down to the water line. The body of the bird appeared solid colored grayish brown, no distinguishable markings or color change. (I did not have direct sunlight)
[see photos]
Song or call & method of delivery: no sound
Behavior: slowly paddleing, dove once, but mostly stayed on top of water. I believe I was close enoush for it to be aware of my presence which did not seem to concern the bird.
Habitat: Hyrum Dam is a large fresh water body, fairly clean, lots of fish
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
A western grebe was in range. Its neck was much longer and the throat was white to the water. Clarks Grebe eliminated for same reasons. Horned grebe (rare to Cache valley) was elimitated because the lower half of this birds face/head was white , not black. That also eliminated the eared grebe, and this bird did not have golden feathers behind the eye.
Mergansers elimated because this bird had a distinctive black cap. The way the black set on the head reminded me of an army beret cap that was black. Red brested M. eliminated on head patterns and dark body of male and lack of white neck of female.
Loons: none are closely similar to this bird.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen this bird multiple times in the Seattle, Puget Sound, and Vancouver area. All other Grebes are fairly regular to Cache Valley. I have seen all the loon species multiple times. Common loon is "common" on Hyrum Dam. W. and C. Grebes are very common in Cache Valley.
References consulted: Used National Geographic 5th edition in field. These notes made from memory within 4 hours of sighting.
Description from: From memory
Observer: Bob Atwood
Observer's address: 780 Stewart Hill Drive, River Heights, Cache Co Utah 84321
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Ron Ryel, and Ryan O'Donnell called (answer machine) within 30 minutes of sighting. Reported to hot line.
Date prepared: June 18, 2010
Additional material: Well, this is the pushing point to make me buy a camera  [photos by Ryan O'Donnell]
Additional_Comments: Birding in Cache Co since 1985. Because of the close proximity and view of the the bird this was actually an easy observation for me.