Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2016-45

Common name:

Arctic Loon

Scientific name: Gavia arctica
Date: 11-17-2016
Time: 3:30pm
Length of time observed: 1 hour
Number: 1
Age: ?
Sex: ?
Location: Hyrum Reservoir.
County: Cache
Elevation: 4,700ft
Distance to bird: At closest approach, less than 30m
Optical equipment: Bushnell 20-48X spotting scope, Vortex 8.5 X 32 Binoculars
Weather: Mostly sunny, calm, cool-45F
Light Conditions: Good
Description:        Size of bird: Medium sized loon-26in
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Typical loon
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: mostyly grayish above, high contrast white throat, white flanks
(Description:)            Bill Type: Typical Loon
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
I saw this loon well on both 11-17-16 and 11-19-16. The only other Loon I saw it in direct comparison with was a Red-throated, on 11-19-16, which is seemed notably larger than with a much larger bill. Common and Pacific Loons were present on the same reservoir at the time, but never close to this loon. Very similar to a Pacific, which some are saying it could be, gray on the back, high contrast white throat. This loon had a notable white line above the waterline on the flanks visible when loafing, that seemed to flare up into a wedge shape toward the rump. However this white was usually not visible when the bird was actively foraging. It also had a fairly large bill that was often held slightly upward, and a blocky head shape with a rather steep forehead, although its head shape varied depend on activity, seem most blocky when foraging. Also had a lot of white in the cheek, and lacked the dark necklace that Pacific often has.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Red-throated Loon-smaller, different head and bill shape, usually lower in the water. Direct comparison.

Yellow-billed Loon-much larger, larger paler bill

Common Loon-larger, longer,thicker bill, which collar on neck creating jagged neck line

Pacific-very similar, but reported to be smaller, smaller billed, more rounded head shape,usually have dark necklace, less white on cheek, and lack white on flanks. The 2 Pacific I saw on this reservoir on 11-19-16 had no white visible on the flanks and generally seemed smaller bodied and smaller billed
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
None with Arctic, many with Pacific, Common and some with Red-throated, all of which were present for comparison
References consulted: Macaulay Library, Birds of North America online, 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: Initially found by Kendall Watkins on Nov. 1st, later reported by Zachary Loman on Nov. 14, many more after that
Date prepared: 11-22-16
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: There has been some debate on the identity of this bird. As I have no previous experience with Arctic, I though it best that someone submit a record to the UBRC so its ID could be settled. Seems no one else will submit the record, so I guess I will despite it not being "my bird".