[Tweeters] Deception Pass mystery birds

Brenda Burnett beaknbird at hotmail.com
Fri Jan 11 09:12:00 PST 2013

Hi Tweeters,

I spent some time at Deception Pass State Park on Wednesday and was puzzled by some birds that I saw flying over the water and riding the waves here and there. In color and color patterns they looked like loons, though slightly smaller, sleeker, and paler than Common Loons. My best looks at them were in flight, and they looked just like the Sibley's and Nat'l Geographic pics of loons in flight. I wonder if they might have been Pacific Loons. I tried to view those that were in the water, but the wind was blowing so hard that my scope shook, and the birds could only be glimpsed briefly because of the chop in the water. I know a definitive i.d. isn't plausible, but a couple of questions about loons come to mind:

- Do loons ever "flock"? Most of these birds were traveling individually, but there were a lot of them flying by (toward the pass) over a long period of time and dotted over a large area of water. A small-ish flock of 20 or so appeared in one area of water, but it was hard to see them well.
- I think of loons as sitting solitarily on quieter waters, but there were none of these birds in the quieter lagoons near Deception Pass. I did see one briefly at Rosario, but it saw me looking and went under and never reappeared (aargh!). The rest were out there in the wild wind and water. Would loons do that?

I know they were not Pigeon Guillemots--no wing patches, longer, necks, larger overall, solid pale-ish gray color on head, nape, back, and wings, pale/white throat, breast and belly. I dunno. Anyone want to venture a guess?

Brenda Burnett


beaknbird at hotmail dot com

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