Red-throated Loon

Red-throated Loon

We live on a salt-water river on the coast of Maine. Depending how you measure, our house is between 10 and 20 miles of the ocean, but we still have seals and lobster traps in the tidal river. For five and a half hours the river runs one direction and then the tide turns and the river runs for five and a half hours in the other. When all of the lakes, ponds and inland rivers are frozen (or filled with chunks of ice), the salt-water rivers remain relatively ice free for many miles inland.

This open water attracts birds that nest inland during the summer, the most common of these being Bald Eagles and Common Loons. The Loons are interesting, gone is their characteristic Black Head and patterned chest, replaced by a pale gray and white plumage. But during the winter they are very common and I’ve heard their somewhat eerie cry on a cold dark night.

This morning I looked out and saw a loon but it looked rather small. The binoculars confirmed my suspicion, it was a rare Red-throated Loon. Smaller than a Common Loon, with round head and a thin upturned bill . . . it supposedly has red on its throat (but I’ve never seen it). Acording the bird guides the red is quite prominent in breeding plumage (but it breeds in Northern Canada and we won’t be getting there until our Big Year).

Also got a photo of this cute Bufflehead couple.


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