Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2003-10

Common name:

Red-necked Grebe

Scientific name: Podiceps grisegena
Date: April 20, 2003
Time: 1:00 pm
Length of time observed: 20 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: unknown
Location: Hyrum Reservoir, 200 m from swimming beach on north side
County: Cache
Latilong: 3
Elevation: 4665 ft
Distance to bird: 300 meters
Optical equipment: Swarovski Spotting Scope, ATS 65mm HD, 20-60 zoom
Weather: Mostly sunny, 60 deg F, no wind
Light Conditions: bright sunlight
Detailed description of bird: The bird was a medium-sized grebe, noticeably smaller than the numerous Clark’s and western grebes in the vicinity. The bird was in nearly full alternate plumage. The broad, elongated head was nearly squared-off at the top in the back. The top of the head was black dipping down toward the front to barely include the eye, while the face, cheek and chin were white. The chisel-shaped bill (similar in shape to a flicker) was nearly as long as the head and was dirty yellow in color. The entire neck was a rich rusty buff, but not as colorful as indicated in field guides—indicating perhaps an adult that was not fully transformed from basic to alternate plumage. The back, sides and wings were relatively uniform dark brownish gray. The open wing and feet were not seen as the bird did not fly.   (See Drawing - Acrobat Reader File)
Song or call & method of delivery: none
Behavior: actively swimming
Habitat: reservoir
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
Clark's and western grebe are larger (many were in vicinity), have thinner black and white neck, and less elongated and squared-off head. Horned and eared grebes are smaller, have different face pattern (except winter horned grebe), have smaller and shorter dark bills (not yellow). Horned grebes do not have the black cap, white face and rusty neck in the same plumage, but even so can be distinguished by bill color. Loons have different color pattern and are larger (there were several common loons in the vicinity). Ducks have different bill shape and none have the color pattern of this bird.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I have seen this species three times in Utah, and numerous individuals off the west coast in winter, during migration in Michigan and during summer in Montana.
References consulted: National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America, The Sibley Guide to Birds.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Ron and Larry Ryel
Observer's address: Ron: 1649 N 1000 E, North Logan, UT 84341
Observer's e-mail address: Email:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Dave and Sue Drown found and observed the bird later in the day at the same location.
Date prepared: April 22.2003   (General Public)
Additional material:  Drawing  (Acrobat Reader File)
Additional comments: