Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2016-44

Common name:

Red-throated Loon

Scientific name: Gavia stellata
Date: 11-19-2016
Time: 12:00pm
Length of time observed: 1 hour
Number: 1
Age: juvenile?
Sex: unknown
Location: Hyrum Reservoir.
County: Cache
Elevation: 4,700ft
Distance to bird: As close as 50m
Optical equipment: Bushnell 20-48X spotting scope, Vortex 8.5 X 32 Binoculars
Weather: Mostly sunny, 50F, lite wind
Light Conditions:  
Description:        Size of bird: Small Loon-24in
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Typical Loon
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Fairly uniform dull grayish
(Description:)            Bill Type: Upturned loon bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Smallish loon, much smaller than Common Loons when nearby, slightly smaller than presumed Arctic Loon.Compared to those 2 Loons it had a much smaller,thinner bill that was always upturned. I never saw it near the 2 Pacific Loons present for a size comparison.Basically this loon was solid uniform dull gray, slightly paler grayish white chin, and with a dark reddish spot on lower front of neck, essential identical in plumage to Sibleys(2014) drawing of a juvenile Red-throated. This loon also uniquely carried it self very low in the water, with its back barely above the waterline most of the time. I'm unfamiliar with Loon molt patters, so I can't say with absolute confidence it is a Juvenile, sub-adult or adult in partially retained breeding plumage, age assessment based on Sibley.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: Swimming on the open water of the reservoir,sometimes very distant, but at times came close to shore, seemed to be actively fishing most of the time I observed this loon
Habitat: Freshwater reservoir
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Common Loon-much larger, much larger bill held straight. Many were present and had several looks at them in the same field of view together.

Yellow-billed Loon-much larger, much larger pale bill

Pacific Loon-Similar in size(according to Sibley) but has a larger bill that is usually held straight, and has a strongly contrasting gray and white neck line, and smooth rounded head. 2 Pacific Loons were on the reservoir for comparison, but never in same field of view for direct comparison.

Arctic Loon-Like Pacific, have strongly contrasting gray and white neck line, larger bill held more straight, and should be noticeably larger. There was a loon present that may be of this species(I'll let the UBRC decide that) and it was notably larger when side by side, with a much larger bill.

Red-necked Grebe-Somewhat similar, but with a notably shorted body than a Loon, bill held straight. One was on the reservoir for comparison.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Yes, I've seen 3 of these in Utah now
References consulted: Sibley, 2014
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: Many,I was with Bob Atwood, Vivian Schneggenburger, Lauri Taylor, Dickson Smith and a few others
Date prepared: 11-20-2016
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: I actually initial saw this bird on 11-17-16, but it was very distant and lighting was bad, so I wasn't 100% certain, others then reported it the next day, so I had to go get a better look.