Thursday, January 29, 2015

Common Loon pics from UNO

Steven Liffman took these Common Loon pics recently in the London Avenue Canal adjacent the University of New Orleans- very nice.

Loons are winter residents in our area.  Although Red-throated and Pacific Loons have also been reported along the Gulf Coast, they are only vagrants here.  Because >99% of loons here are Common, it is generally assumed that any loon will be this species.

Common Loons are among our largest swimming birds, although they are often far enough from shore that their size is not obvious.  For birders just getting started, separation from Double-crested Cormorants can be a challenge when the birds are sitting on the water.  Cormorant necks are longer and thinner, and often show a slight crook; their beaks are typically held upward at a slight angle (loons are shorter and thicker necked, with a smooth neck shape, and hold their beak horizontal).  Adult cormorants are also black on the fore neck, whereas winter loons are whitish there (though so are immature cormorants).  Loons are infrequently seen in flight (I typically see <10 flying per year), whereas cormorants- solo or flocked- are common sights in the air.  Loons never perch out of water in our part of the country- whereas cormorants commonly hang out on electrical towers, pipes, pylons, etc. 


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