species If safely Identifiable in the field,
are as follows:
The key fleldmarks for the Arctic Loor
(1) The Arctic Loon is a small species of loon, with the body length averaging over
six Inches less than the Common. There are many Common Loons, however, that are
considerably smaller than the average, some approaching the Arctic In body size.
This fleldmark, therefore, cannot be considered reliable on its own in the field.
(2) The bill of the Arctic Loon is quite short, averaging over 40% shorter than the
Common. Mclntyre and Mclntyre (Auk, Vol. 91, pp. 413-415), however, have shown
the existence of a considerable overlap (be+ween 55 and 65 mm.) be+ween certain
Arctic and Common Loon individuals. A mark to look for Is the diameter of the
bill at Its base, for the Arctic Loon will average a much thinner bi11 base than
the Common Loon.
(3) Mcln+yre and Mcln+yre s+a+e +ha+ "aI I Arc+Ic Loons (60) taken from September to
March had uniform gray plumage above and anterior to the eyes". Out of 54 Common
Loons examined by the pair, only 4_ (around 7.2?) lacked a definite pattern of
white feathering around the eye. ~Used In conjunction with the rest of the series
this fleldmark is essential to a posl+ive iden+ifica+ion.
(4) Arc+Ic Loons in winter often have a nape that is a distinctly lighter gray than
the back (watch the angle and intensity of +he sun, for a shine or gleam off +he
nape can be deceiving). The back is usually uniformly dark, al+hough Pough says
+ha+ +he "young....have a light edging to the back; feathers which
produces a scaled effect". The contrast between the blackish upper parts and
the white under parts is somewhat greater than in other loons. (Oberholser).
(5) The Arctic Loon has a graceful posture, with the head held up and away from the
body, and the neck formed Into a uniform curve.
C) Red-throated Loon- The Red-throated Loon, Gavla. itellata, Is a rare but regular
winter resident on the UTC. This small loon, the most diminutive of the genus in
North America, Is observed most often at the Texas City Dike, with as many as three
and four individuals being seen in one day. The Red-throated Loon, unlike the Arctic
and Common, possesses a clearly distinguishable series of fleldmarks which should
make field Identification much easier than with the previous species. The key field-
marks for the Red-throated Loon are as follows:
(I) The Red-throated Loon Is considerably.smaIler than the Common Loon, being much
closer to the size of a Mallard than to a cormorant. Although the Red-throated
nearly matches the Arctic In body length, In actual bulk size It Is much slImmer.
O) The bill of the Red-throated Loon is sharply pointed, exceedingly thin and has
a lower mandible which curves distinctly upward. The length of the Arctic Loon's
bill is comparable to that of the Red-throated.
(3) The back of the Red-throated Loon In winter Is gray and is covered with white
spots or "stars". The specific name itell/ita comes from the Latin "stel la+us",
which Is also +he root for the English "s+ella+e", meaning s+udded wi+h s+ars.
(4) The Red-+hroa+ed Loon holds l+s neck straight and extended. The bill is usually
held at an upward angle, giving the bird a "haughty" look.
Remember, a single fleldmark alone Is meaningless when attempting to Identify winter
loons. As with other field problems an observer must "build a case" for positive
Identification. An identification based oh the careful observation and meticulous
written detailing of the entire series of fieldmarks is irrefutable.
AROUND AND ABOUT
[Following Is a letter I want to share with you from Dorothy and David Lefkovitz,
former OG members who now live in Douce++e, a few miles nor+h of Woodvllle, Texas]
"Our bird world has been busy and Interesting, especially this winter since about 15
Evening Grosbeaks have been feeding here and this must be the year of the Pine Siskins. While the snow was on the ground so many of the birds found our porch to be
a good shelter, Including the Phoebe who shopped for food under the eaves and sat on
the wood supply we keep on the porch.
"Dr. James Jinnette, a dentist here, had an interesting incident at his office on the
,12th and 13th of January. A Cedar Waxwing fa+ally flew In+o one of his floor length
windows and l+s body fell in+o a low hedge beneath the window. Within a very few
minutes another Cedar Waxwing came to sit by its dead companion. Even though Dr. Jin
nette and his staff would go out and check on It quite often the bird never moved.
Food and water was put near but, as far as they know, it made no effort to eat or
" It sat there almost exactly 23 hours, le++Ing people come wl+hln three or four Inches
of It. Since the hedge Is about I 1/2 feet high a careful look-out was kept for cats