[wisb] Re: ALERT - PACIFIC LOON - HORICON MARSH

Hi Phillip-
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but my interpretation is that this bird
is actually quite consistent with a winter plumaged Common Loon (weird in
its own right, at this point in the year...). Here's why I think that.

Two characteristics are key in this case, the neck plumage and the bill.

The neck plumage shows a highly uneven line, such that in many of the photos
of the bird facing away you can see a light mark coming back around the
neck. Photo Ten is particularly diagnostic, in profile, showing the bulges
of dark plumage and above them a white mark heading back around the neck. A
Pacific would have an even line down the neck, with the only break in the
the necklace, tight up around the throat.

Second, the bill is heavy and dagger-like, and there's a bend in the lower
mandible but the maxillary. Pacific Loon would have a finer bill that is
more even, without that steep rise in the mandible.

The forehead is also a bit bulgey - in Pacific it is more even.

It's odd that a Common Loon would make it to Horicon and stay there in
winter plumage, that's for sure!

There are some clear features that definitely make this NOT a Western Grebe,
by the way. Westerns are much smaller, lighter birds, with a long willowy
neck and very fine pointy bill, not the massive dagger like on this bird.
They also have a much greater contrast in the head and neck, with the throat
and chin being bright white and the head and nape being blackish. The bird
would have a yellow bill and red eye, as well.

I'd say this is one of those really easy mix ups to make, until you've seen
ten Pacific Loons. In Ithaca, we were constantly on the lookout for Pacific,
because they were seen on the great lakes, but had not been found much at
all on Cayuga Lake, and we were constantly screwing it up. Finally a real
one showed up and we realized how hard we'd been looking for something that
was actually more different from the expected than we thought.

Jesse Ellis
Madison, WI

On Mon, Jun 6, 2011 at 9:21 PM, Phillip L. Billings
<plbillings@xxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:

> This afternoon after a full day at Horicon Marsh I was heading home west on
> Highway 49 when I noticed a large mostly dark bird with a white breast.
>  Once I scoped the bird I could tell it was a loon (the first time I have
> even seen a Loon of any type at Horicon).
> The more I watched and tried to photograph this bird the more I knew it was
> not a Common Loon.
>
> The bird came within may be 100 yards of the road but so far the numerous
> photo's taken are not sharp but I hope a more experienced birder came ID
> this bird as a Pacific Loon.
>
> Location:  Highway 49 - North Pond - just east of the Historical Marker -
> may 100 yards out into the pond.
>
> Check my website link:
>
> http://www.photographyinourtime.com/p940046511
>
> I did see the Pacific Loon that was on Monona Lake in March but it never
> came close enough to shore for a clear image.
> I hope the more experienced birders can ID this bird.
>
> Phil Billings
> Oregon
> Dane County
> ####################
> You received this email because you are subscribed to the Wisconsin Birding
> Network (Wisbirdn).
> To UNSUBSCRIBE or SUBSCRIBE, use the Wisbirdn web interface at:
> http://www.freelists.org/list/wisbirdn
> To set DIGEST or VACATION modes, use the Wisbirdn web interface at:
> http://www.freelists.org/list/wisbirdn
> Visit Wisbirdn ARCHIVES at: http://www.freelists.org/archives/wisbirdn
>
>
>


-- 
Jesse Ellis
Post-doctoral Researcher
Dept. of Zoology
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Madison, Dane Co, WI


####################
You received this email because you are subscribed to the Wisconsin Birding 
Network (Wisbirdn).
To UNSUBSCRIBE or SUBSCRIBE, use the Wisbirdn web interface at: 
http://www.freelists.org/list/wisbirdn
To set DIGEST or VACATION modes, use the Wisbirdn web interface at: 
http://www.freelists.org/list/wisbirdn
Visit Wisbirdn ARCHIVES at: http://www.freelists.org/archives/wisbirdn


Other related posts: