Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2003-05

Common name:

Red Phalarope

Scientific name: Phalaropus fulicaria
Date: 10-24-02
Time: 12:00 - 12:40
Length of time observed: 40 minutes
Number: 1
Age: adult ?
Location: Gunlock Reservoir, Santa Clara River
County: Washington County
Latilong: 19
Elevation: ~1100 m
Distance to bird: 20 - 50 meters
Optical equipment: Kowa 823 scope, 20 - 60 x eyepiece
Weather: calm, partly cloudy
Light Conditions: observed in both full sun and diffused light (cloudy conditions)
Detailed description of bird: Large, robust phalarope; with posture of a minature Bonaparte's Gull (while swimming on the surface of the reservoir). Very pale overall, with black crown patch starting diffusely on top of head and darkest on rear of crown. Thin dark gray stripe continuing down rear of neck connecting crown and back. Forehead white and face mostly white with black eye patch starting directly in front of eye and extending behind eye. Eye black. Relatively stout black bill, appeared blunt (did not taper to sharp point). Underside completely white from chin to undertail coverts, except light gray smudging on sides of breast and flanks. Back, mantle, and upper wings (scapulars and secondaries) uniform light gray. Much darker gray/black tertials and primaries. Eye, bill and feet black.
In flight: Mantle gray. Upperwings dark, with bold white stripe through center of wing. Underwings white (primary coverts), with darker trailing edge (secondaries and primaries). [see photos]
Song or call & method of delivery: no vocalizations heard
Behavior: Swimming / feeding on surface of reservoir. Flew briefly and continued foraging on water surface.
Habitat: open water of reservoir
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
Red-necked Phalarope differs from Red Phalarope in: overall smaller and more delicate appearance, very thin needle like bill, and grey back streaked with white and/or black. Also has darker underwing.
Wilson's Phalarope: Distinguished by mostly white face, thin delicate bill, and lack of white wing stripe in flight.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I've seen Red-necked Phalaropes many times, and Red Phalaropes a few times, including one on 10/11/02 in Death Valley that Kevin Wheeler and I observed and studied extensively.
References consulted: P. Harrison's Seabirds
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Rick Fridell
Observer's address: 3505 West 290 North, Hurricane UT 84737
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Charlie Sheard and Bill Hunter observed this phalarope on 10/26/02.
Date prepared: 01-12-02  (General Public)
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: I believe this was an adult Red Phalarope in the final stages of molting from breeding into non-breeding plumage. Photos attached.