Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2017-11

Common name:

Red-throated Loon

Scientific name: Gavia stellata
Date: 01/29/2017
Time: 2:15 PM
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Unknown
Location: Quail Creek Reservoir
County: Washington
Elevation:  3,000'
Distance to bird: About 1 mile (4,900' according to measure tool on Google Maps)
Optical equipment: 20-60x82 scope
Weather: Sunny and clear
Light Conditions: Perfect afternoon light
Description:        Size of bird: Small Loon
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Loon
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: White and black
(Description:)            Bill Type:  sharp dagger
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
 This bird has been reported for more than a month now but no one had submitted a record?

It had been several weeks since the last report and we spotted the bird diving on the far side with several Common Loons and Common Mergansers. The small size of the loon was obvious in relation to the much larger loon and the slightly larger mergansers. The bird was dark backed, with a dark cap in stark contrast to its white throat, neck, and face. When the bird was high on the water you could make out pale flanks as well.

Although the appearance was of an adult, I can't say for certain that it may be a 1st winter bird nearing the end of the cycle and having the more stark appearance of an adult.

The posture of this species is very unique as it sits with its head raised so its bill is pointed upward instead of flat or downward while swimming. Even at the extreme distance the base features are really unique.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None
Behavior: Swimming and Diving
Habitat: Open water on deep desert reservoir
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
None. Every other species of loon is distinctly different that winter Red-throated Loon.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
 Have seen several in Utah, and numerous on the coast and in the Great Lakes
References consulted: None
Description from: Notes made later
Observer:  Tim Avery
Observer's address: Sandy, Utah
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Kenny Frisch, Nate Brown, Stephanie Greenwood, and many others over the past month.
Date prepared: 01/31/2016
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: Terrible digiscoped photos here: