Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2017-71

Common name:

Red-throated Loon

Scientific name: Gavia stella
Date: Nov 3, 2017
Time: 8:30 AM
Length of time observed: 2 minutes at close range, then a couple other brief views at well over a hundred yards
Number: 1
Age: 1st winter
Location: Scofield Reservoir
County: Carbon
Distance to bird: Originally about 30 yards.
Optical equipment: Swarsovski 10 x 42 binos and Nikon Field Scope
Weather: Clear and windy
Light Conditions: good
Description:        Size of bird:  
(Description:)       Basic Shape: like a loon
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: dark with white streaking on back, grayish on head and hind neck with white streaks. Whitish with gray streaks on throat and chest
(Description:)            Bill Type:  
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
I parked the truck to look at some other birds and this bird swam out from somewhere near the shore. It started swimming out further into the lake. I first looked at it through my binos then through my scope on a window mount. It overall blackish on the back with white scalloping across back. The head and back of the neck were a bit lighter gray and streaked white. It was whiter in the throat and chest and showed quite a bit of fine gray streaking in the neck and chest. The cheek area below the eye was noticeably lighter and not as streaked, but not nearly as white as a winter adult RT Loon. As it swam away it held its head slightly back, making the bill tilt upwards. At this point a strange looking duck flew in and landed nearby. It ended up being a surf scoter. While I was looking at the scoter the loon must have dove. It took me a while to locate it again and when I did it was over 100 yards away. I got a couple of brief views of it but unfortunately was unable to obtain a photograph
Song or call & method of delivery: n/a
Behavior: swimming and diving
Habitat: deep water reservoir
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Other loon species do not have finely streaked heads and necks in any age or plumage. Also the other loons would also have either a nearly solid dark back, or show more of a barred pattern where this bird was more scalloped/spotted. Lacked any sort of a wedge seen on the neck of a Common Loon and also did not have a clean dark/light neck of a Pacific Loon but was finely streaked. The bill was also much thinner than a common loon. Other than loons it could could possibly be confused with some of the larger grebe species, but shape and color was different.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Seen a few times here in utah, and numerous times in other locations (Alaska, Japan, California, etc)
References consulted: Sibly Guide to Birds
Description from: From memory
Observer: Bryan Shirley
Observer's address:  
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: As far as I know no other birders saw this bird. I went up a few days later and was unable to find it.
Date prepared: Dec 18, 2017
Additional material: