Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2021-61

Common name:

Red-throated Loon

Scientific name: Gavia stellata
Date: 10/23/2021
Time: 12:10pm
Length of time observed: 2 hours off and on
Number: 1
Age: juvenile
Sex: ?
Location: Rockport Reservior
County: Summit
Latilong: 40.772443, -111.406077
Elevation: 6000ft
Distance to bird: 200m at closest
Optical equipment: Kowa Spotting Scope, Nikon 10x42 binoculars
Weather: Overcast, light rain, 45F, moderate winds
Light Conditions: Good, flat light
Description:        Size of bird: medium sized waterbird
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Long neck and body
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: uniform slate gray
(Description:)            Bill Type: small dagger shaped
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
First noted a smallish loon that held its bill pointing upward at an angle, bill quite small. Head and neck were gray with a dirty gray mottling in the throat but a white chin. Back was unmarked slate gray. Seemed to ride lower in the water than other loons. When it flew it had the distinctive habit of holding the head and neck very low below the body, with deep but fast wing beats giving a distinctive flight profile I became very aware of this past August in Alaska.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: Mostly actively diving, but some bouts of preening and even flew at one point only to re-land on the far side.
Habitat: large freshwater reservoir
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Pacific Loon-similar size but hold bill level with the head, bill slightly larger. Sharply demarcated high contrast dark and white line on the side of the neck with a clean white throat, often with necklace under chin, usually some barring on back. Back of head often a shiny gray contrasting with darker body. Direct comparison as 2 were present on the water, once in the same view in the scope.

Arctic Loon-very similar to Pacific but head darker and bill larger, usually held level with head. Sharp neckline.

Common Loon-much larger with a larger bill usually held level, darker blackish head and back with some barring on back. Some juveniles very pale gray but all have white throat with a broken collar making a jagged neckline. Direct comparison as many were present, often near this loon.

Yellow-billed Loon-much larger with a huge yellowish bill, more brownish head and back

Grebes-smaller and shorter bodied, longer necks in proportion to body length than loons

Common/Red-breasted Mergansers-Similar is size and shape but orange bills, females shaggy red crests, males black heads. White secondaries in flight
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Yes, 6 previous in Utah, 3 adults, 3 juvenile. Several in Washington State September 2020. Many adults and chicks in Alaska this past August
References consulted: Sibley app
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Max and Mike Malmquist were with me, later Dave Hanscom, John Manwaring and Quin Diaz also saw the bird with us
Date prepared: 10/23/21
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: eBird checklist: Note that Max and I thought we spotted a juvenile Red-throated Loon at Rockport on 10/20/21, but the sun had set and it was getting dark and we could not relocate it that evening, so we returned 10/23 to try again and confirmed our suspicions. See