Red-throated LoonGavia stellata (Pontoppidan)
Status Fairly common transient, uncommon in winter, very rare in summer. The first southbound birds appear about mid-September (average 30 September, earliest 11 September), but the main fall movement is from mid-October to early November. They are frequently noted on Christmas Bird Counts but not often later in winter. Spring movements begin as early as mid-March and last for about a month (average of last sightings 1 May, latest 24 May). Several reports of birds in early June probably represent non-breeding laggards, and one on 13 August 1967 in Halifax County had presumably summered locally.
Description Length: 61-68 cm. Adults in summer: Head and sides of neck gray; back of neck streaked with white; front of neck has a triangular chestnut patch; rest of upperparts dark gray, marked with small white spots; abdomen white; bill blackish gray. Immatures and adults in winter: Mostly gray above and white below, and without chestnut throat patch. This bird resembles the larger Common Loon in winter, but the bill of the Red-throated is slightly upturned, a good field mark because the bill of the Common Loon is straight.
Range Breeds in arctic and subarctic parts of North America, Europe and Asia. In North America it winters mainly along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
Remarks This loon species is unique in being able to take off from land. In addition, it flies from water more quickly and easily than other loons. Its ability to manoeuvre in flight enables the bird to make effective use of small bodies of water which are in a sense out-of-bounds to other loon species, which require longer distances when taking to the air, especially when confronted with dead calm weather. The shore hunters know this bird by the name "cape drake."
Questions? Comments? E-mail us at: Museumfirstname.lastname@example.org
Credits and copyright information. Last updated February 20, 1998
Best viewed with Netscape 3.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0 or later.
For further information contact Webmaster, Nova Scotia Museum.