Friday, February 7, 2020

Pacific Loon

During our 3 February 2020 Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Brant search, Erika and I spoke to a birder. He reported that he saw three Red-throated Loons near the end of the boardwalk. We photographed two loons. I really think these look more like Pacific Loons. They don’t have the haughty, bill-in-the-air, attitude of a Red-throated Loon. The bird in this photo has what appears to be a thin necklace, a feature of Pacific Loons. The birds have relatively dark backs.

This species may be the most abundant loon in North America (Russell 2018). They breed n freshwater lakes across Northern Canada and Alaska, even into northeastern Siberia. In winter, Pacific Loons are abundant in saltwater of the Pacific Coast, from Alaska south to Baja California. Most Siberian birds winter off Japan, Korea and eastern China. These loons are casual from the Midwest to the Atlantic Coast—many of these records, however, “may involve misidentifications of Common or Red-throated Loons” (Russell 2018).

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