Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2021-67

Common name:

Red-throated Loon

Scientific name: Gavia stellata
Date: 11/06/2021
Time: 3:00pmish
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: juvenile
Sex: ?
Location: Willard Bay
County: Box Elder
Latilong: 41.345369, -112.128416
Elevation: 4212
Distance to bird: 300m
Optical equipment: Kowa Spotting Scope, Nikon 10x42 binoculars
Weather: 60F
Light Conditions: good, flat light
Description:        Size of bird: medium sized waterbird
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  Long neck and body
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: uniform 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 and a white chin. Back was gray with faint spotting. Seemed to ride lower in the water than other loons.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: Mostly actively diving, but did spend some time just loafing and resting.
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.

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

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, 7 previous in Utah, 3 adults, 4 juvenile. Several in Washington State September 2020. Many adults and chicks in Alaska this past August
References consulted:  
Description from: From memory
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 Malmquist was with me and also saw the loon
Date prepared: 11/7/21
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: Additional_Comments: eBird checklist: