[Tweeters] Deception Pass mystery birds

Kelly McAllister mcallisters4 at comcast.net
Fri Jan 11 10:30:36 PST 2013

Everything in this description says Pacific Loon to me; size, shape,
flocking behavior, association with deeper channel waters. The location and
season are also consistent with the species expected to be there.

Kelly McAllister


From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu
[mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Brenda
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2013 9:12 AM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Tweeters] Deception Pass mystery birds

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

Brenda Burnett
beaknbird at hotmail dot com

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