Autumn Magic Part 2: Loon Migration

By , October 4, 2010

On the last day of September, Aly called down to me from her bedroom. She had seen something out her window, and wanted to share. “There are 7 loons out in front of the house!” I looked out the window, and say 8 loons. I grabbed a jacket and a pair of binoculars, and went quietly into the dooryard, walking down to the beach to join Michelle who was watching the loons. I realized there were several other loons out there as well. Then Michelle directed my attention to the water north of our Power Point.

A large flock of birds stretched out over the calm surface. Scanning them with the binoculars, I realized that every bird in the flock was a loon.

loons gathering for migration

This isn't the greatest photo, but it shows both Pacific and common loons (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

We saw both Pacific and common loons in the flock, some still in summer plumage, others in winter colors. I made a quick count, showing that there were at least 70 birds in our view!

This happened last year, on September 25. We had a large flock of Pacific loons come through then as well.

Common loons frequent our waters. Bird books identify Pacific loons as common in this area, but we almost never see them, except in late September. Loons usually don’t flock in the summer, but apparently gather as they begin migrating south. To see so many of them, and in a mixed flock like this, was a rare treat!

loon flock south of Haines

Some of more than 70 loons gathered near our homestead (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

By afternoon, most of the loons had disappeared. A few remained, however, and we fell asleep that night to their muted calls over the water. Magic!

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