Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2015-38

Common name:

Black Scoter

Scientific name: Melanitta americana
Date: 11-07-2015
Time: around 3:00pm
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age:  ?
Sex: Not an adult male
Location: East Canyon Reservoir
County: Morgan
Elevation: 5,700ft
Distance to bird: 200m
Optical equipment: Nikon 10x50 Binoculars,Bushnell 15-45x Spotting Scope
Weather: Sunny, breezy, 50F
Light Conditions: Backlight was a challenge, but once I found the right angle to view the bird light was good.
Description:        Size of bird: medium sized duck
(Description:)       Basic Shape: typical duck shaped
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: dark brown body, blackish crown and bill, with white cheeks
(Description:)            Bill Type: typical duck bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
What I first noticed was a duck loafing with Loons, which is unusual and the behavior reported by the original group that found it. Once I got the scope on it I could clearly make out the solid white cheek and blackish crown, with an overall dark brown body.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: loafing out in the middle of the reservoir with a large group of Common Loons, no other ducks present, although there was a Surf Scoter and some other ducks on the south end of the Res., but none in this group of birds
Habitat: Large freshwater reservoir at moderate elevation
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Other scoters are larger, with longer bills and a different head shape, and female/immatures usually have 2 white spots on the side of the head, not one solid white cheek like this duck. Male Ruddy Ducks are also similar, but much smaller with a shorter body and a more convex forehead shape.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Yes, many
References consulted:  memory, I've seen enough of these that I didn't need to consult a reference.
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South #105, SLC, UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: First reported earlier in the day by Mike Hearell,Taylor Abbot and Billy Fenimore, later Weston Smith and Dave Hanscome relocated it.
Date prepared: 11-10-15
Additional material: Photos