Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2018-49

Common name:

Red Phalarope

Scientific name: Phalaropus fulicarius
Date:  09/28/2018
Time: 10:00 AM
Length of time observed: 10 minutes (approx)
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Location: Warm Creek Bay, Lake Powell
County: Kane
Latilong: 37.02704 N, -111.42448 E
Elevation: 3593 ft.
Distance to bird: Varied: 12 feet to 50 feet
Optical equipment: Nikon 200-500mm lens, Leupold 10X50 binoculars
Weather: Sunny, calm
Light Conditions: Mid-morning, clear
Description:        Size of bird: About 8-9 inches
(Description:)       Basic Shape: (see photos)
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: White, gray, and black
(Description:)            Bill Type: Straight, straw-like
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
A clear phalarope at first glance. Upon closer examination, it became evident that this was a red phalarope in nonbreeding plumage and not a more common red-NECKED phalarope. Here are the main points that make this bird a red phalarope:

Quite bulky in appearance (compared to red-necked).

Pale gray (unstreaked) back with dark primaries, white tail and flanks. Overall white neck and face with dark gray edges of crown. The top of its crown and forehead were white. A black face patch flared out (widened) behind its eye.
Upon close examination, a slight hint of red was still visible on its neck even though it otherwise appeared fully transitioned into nonbreeding plumage.

Straight, dark, straw-like bill with reddish base of lower mandible.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: Silent
Behavior: Swimming/foraging in open water. Typical "herky jerky" style of phalarope foraging behavior.
Habitat: Open water on Lake Powell, far from the shore. It was probably on one of the widest sections of Warm Creek Bay.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Red-necked phalarope: Similar nonbreeding plumage to red phalarope. However there are several distinct differences that make the reported individual a red phalarope.
The bird observed had a stockier appearance than what I'd expect from red-necked phalarope. Red-necked phalarope would also have a thin, all dark, "needle-like" bill. The base of the lower mandible on a red-necked would not show a slight reddish color as it does in nonbreeding red phalarope (this is visible in my photos). In addition, red-necked phalarope would show more streaking on its back, and the dark face patch on a red-necked would taper downward behind its eye, instead of flaring out like it does on the reported bird.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Red-necked phalarope: at least one previous observation
Red phalarope: no previous observations
References consulted: Sibley Western Field Guide, Rick Fridell, Steve Sommerfeld, various online sources
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Mike Schijf
Observer's address: 354 Vermillion Ave
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Rick Fridell, Kevin Wheeler, Steve & Cindy Sommerfeld, Jason Pietrzak
Date prepared: 10/04/2018
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: We got great looks at this bird from a rental boat. It was quite tame and allowed us to approach for photos without seeming to be disturbed. We found the red phalarope while heading towards the state first blue-footed booby on Warm Creek Bay. Amazingly, we saw this bird again while leaving Warm Creek Bay over an hour later. Credit goes to others on board who spotted the red phalarope before I did.

Although this bird was found quite close to the Arizona border, GPS coordinates (given above) show that this bird was observed in Utah.