Juvenile Red-throated Loon at Bluffers Park in Toronto

This is a juvenile Red-throated Loon. The juvenile Red-throated's head and neck are washed with a variable amount of gray, sometimes extensively. Juveniles lack white in front of the eye, which winter adults have. The white speckles on the back differ from those of winter adults: the juvenile's speckles are grayer (less pure white), longer and narrower, forming V-marks on the scapulars and wing coverts. Red-throated Loons are small and paler above than other loons, normally with a sloping head profile (sometimes angular as in head shape above) and pale slender uptilted bill. Usually the small head and bill are pointed upwards giving them a snakelike appearance. 24 November 2015.


Contrary to some references, Red-throated Loons in juvenile plumage never have a reddish throat patch. However, some juveniles can have a variable smudge on the throat suggesting the throat patch of breeding plumage, such as in the above photo. Juvenile loons retain their full juvenile plumage until January or later before molting to first winter plumage. 24 November 2015.


Link to Ron Pittaway & Michael King's article: Loon ID in Fall and Winter

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