Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2003-

Common name:

Red-throated Loon

Scientific name: Gavia stellata
Date: 22 Apr 2003
Time: ~9:30 AM
Length of time observed: 15 min.
Number: 1
Age: 1st summer
Location: Hyrum Reservoir beach area
County: Cache
Elevation: ~5400
Distance to bird: 150 yards
Optical equipment: 20-60X Kowa Scope
Weather: Clear
Light Conditions: slightly overcast
Detailed description of bird: This loon-shaped bird had a low-contrast head which was darker on top and down the back of the neck and had a broad light area under the chin and upper throat going back along the side of the neck and lower part of the head. This light area in the upper front of the neck became more gray towards the back.  The forehead was very flat compared to other loons and rounded up to the top of the head.  The back was a very plan light gray color and showed little spotting or contrast.  The bill was short and very narrow for a loon and was slightly up-pointed relative to the head. The tip of the bill was beveled slight upward.  [See photos]
Song or call & method of delivery: none
Behavior: floating in reservoir
Habitat: reservoir
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
Pacific & Arctic Loons:  The line between the side and back of the neck was much more indistinct and further back than you would expect on a Pacific or Arctic Loons.  Also this line showed no signs of projecting forward at the throat area.  The forehead was flatter and the bill was more up-turned than in either of these two species.

Common Loons: The small bill and the rounded head was markedly different than the Common Loons (about thirty of them) which were also in the reservoir.  The neck showed not signs of a horizontal neck mark characteristic of the Common Loon and the back show very little patterning.

Yellow-billed Loon: The bill was much smaller and darker; the size of the bird was much smaller (comparing with the nearby Western Grebes) than would be the case with a Yellow-billed Loon.  The back and throat areas showed much less patterning and contract.

Previous experience with this & similar species: This is the first time I've seen this species, but I have seen the Arctic, Pacific and Common Loons before.
References consulted: The Sibley Guide to Birds
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Milton Moody
Observer's address: 2795 Indian Hills Drive, Provo UT  84604
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Dennis Shirley and Bryan Shirley
Date prepared: 6 May 2003
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: