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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Common Loon Day

The afternoon of Friday, March 11, 2011 at Sabine Lake started off with a group of Red-Breasted Mergansers flying overhead heading north. Note their crested heads and their long narrow beak.

(Left-Click to Enlarge Pictures)

Shortly after the Red-Breasted Mergansers flew by, a long-bodied, low-swimming Common Loon with his red eye (which helps it to see underwater) and dagger-like beak popped up. His transition into breeding plumage was in progress. His bill was dark (but not totally black) and his back was checkered but his head was not entirely black/green iridescent with a broken white necklace.

This guy was a pleasure to see and to photograph as he paddled along diving in the water feeding. I don't know how much longer he will hang around before heading north to his breeding grounds but I'm glad he was here.

The highlight of the day was when out of nowhere the Common Loon cut loose with four vocalizations in succession for my wife and me. It wasn't its haunting wail, yodel or maniacal laughter call. It must have been its territorial call which was a first for my wife and me to experience.

When a Loon dives you never know where he is going to pop up. It might be close or it might be far away for this guy is an incredible swimmer and can remain under water for up to five minutes.

An interesting fact about Loons is that the bones of most birds are hollow and light but Loons have solid bones.

A special thanks to Cody Conway for the 'heads up' on this bird.

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