[Tweeters] Report on Review of my "Strange Loon"

Keith Carlson kec201814 at cableone.net
Sun Nov 17 11:05:23 PST 2013

Thanks to all who looked at the photo and responded to the rather strange Loon I saw and photographed 11 November on the Clearwater River.
The photo has been viewed more than 500 times since I asked for comments.
Many of you invested a good deal of time and effort reseaching Common and Yellow-billed Loon.
Comments and suggestions were almost evenly split between the two species.

It has become apparent that both species have some juveniles with dramatically marked backs, altho the bird in my photo is exceptional in this regard.
It has been established that some juvenile Common Loons will have light colored bills and that some juvenile Yellow-throated Loons will have bills that have not yet developed the upturn expected in the adult of the species.

Several of you ( and reference to Kenn Kaufman's Field Guide to Advanced Birding ) pointed out two points of identification that I find to be convincing.
1. The culmen ( top of the bill) appears to be dark along it's length.
2. The eye appears to be fairly large ijn relation to the head.
Both of these point to COMMON LOON.

If any reading this post missed the earlier posts and photo, here is what started what I think was an interesting discussion.

As a footnote, I am placing Yellow-billed Loon/Common Loon in the same category as Clark's/Western Grebes.
I do not think that it is possible to positively ID Winter juveniles at spotting scope distance in most cases.

Keith E. Carlson

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