I was on O’Connell Bridge looking down into the channel when I noticed a large loon-looking bird that seemed much paler than I would have expected. It seemed to be favoring a spot near ANB Harbor, so I decided to go down and give it a shot. When I arrived down at the end of the dock, I saw that it was out in the middle of the channel. After waiting a few minutes, I was very grateful that the loon came up near where I was standing and let me take some photos. Probably best considered Rare in Winter in the Sitka area, this was the first Yellow-billed Loon I have seen.
Although Yellow-billed Loons are paler than Common Loons, this individual seems especially pale. This, in combination with strong patterning on the back suggests that it may be a juvenile, though I’m not positive about that.
For comparison, here is a Common Loon taken a few minutes earlier with similar lighting.