Yellow-billed Loon

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.

4 thoughts on “Yellow-billed Loon”

  1. Matt, excellent photos! I went looking for the bird and thought I found it, but it just didn’t seem like it was big enough for a yellow-billed. I have been waiting for the photos to compare the bird I saw…not the same! Oh well, I just have to keep my eyes pealed for this bird!

  2. Thanks Jen. I heard from someone else that this loon had been at the Mt. Edgecumbe end of the channel earlier in the week, so perhaps it will keep hanging around. The paler plumage really did stand out to me from a good long distance. Good luck!

  3. Wonderful pictures!! I am so glad to have found this site! Thank you to everyone who contributes. It’s great!

  4. Great photos! I’ve only seen a few yellow-billed loons, but I know they weren’t as light as yours. All the ones I’ve seen were in late November. Presumably the molt was over by then.

    Carolyn H.

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