Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2019-06

Common name:

Red-throated Loon

Scientific name: Gavia stellata
Date: 2/9/2019
Time: 1:30 PM
Length of time observed: 30 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Location: Quail Creek State Park
County: UT  [Washington]
Distance to bird: (Won't speculate. Very distant)
Optical equipment: 27-60x85 spotting scope
Weather: Mostly cloudy
Light Conditions: Mostly shade, intermittent sun
Description:        Size of bird: Small loon
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: White, black, gray
(Description:)            Bill Type: Upturned
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Unfortunately this bird was very distant (near the opposite shoreline) when it was observed, so some descriptive details will be lacking in my description.

Fortunately, it was observed swimming near a common loon, which provided for a nice comparison.

The following is copied from my ebird description:

Noticeably smaller overall than nearby common loon, including smaller bill and head. Despite the distance, the bill did appear slightly but noticeably upturned. Gray back, too distant to detect any obvious white speckling. White face and clean white neck. White flanks also obvious while preening. Distant, and eventually lost track of location due to long distance diving.

A few additional details not noted above may be evident from my very poor and distant photos.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None
Behavior: Swimming, then began diving
Habitat: Open water on reservoir
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Common loon: Seen very close to the red-throated loon. Lacked the clean white neck and face. Also was noticeably larger overall, including a larger head and bill.

Pacific loon: The bird observed clearly had a "cleaner" white face and neck. No sign of "chin strap."

Other loons would be unlikely based upon range. Also the size of this bird (compared with nearby common loon) and plumage differences also seemed to rule out a vagrant Arctic loon, or a yellow-billed loon.

Western or Clark's Grebe: The bird observed lacked the long-necked appearance of these species. Posture was definitely consistent with a loon, as it seemed to swim with its head lower to the water compared with the long "snake-like" necks of these grebe species.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Red-throated loon: two or three previous observations, including one other individual at Quail Creek Reservoir

Common loon: 20+ observations

Pacific loon: 2 or 3 past observations

Many observations of western and Clark's grebe
References consulted: National Geographic Field Guide
Sibley's Western Field Guide
Description from:  
Observer: Mike Schijf
Observer's address: 433 East 1050 South Apt. 3
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: It was first discovered by Rick Fridell on February 8th. It was also observed that day by Kevin Wheeler, who also reported it to ebird.
Date prepared: 3/5/2019
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: