Red-throated Loon at Niagara-on-the-Lake

21 December 2006

The scientific name is Gavia stellata. The species name stellata comes from the spangle of bright "stars" on the upperparts in basic (winter) plumage. Red-throated often shows considerable white along the waterline unlike Common and Pacific Loons, but this may lead to confusion with Arctic Loon (no Ontario records) of Eurasia which has a white flanks. 21 December 2006.


This individual is a winter adult in definitive basic plumage. It is aged by its brownish red eye with white before the eye and conspicuous white spotting above. The white spots are a good identification mark at close range for both winter adults and juveniles, but on juveniles the markings are greyer (duller) and the V-markings are narrower and more extensive. This individual will complete its prebasic molt as soon as it reaches salt water on the wintering grounds. All primaries are shed simultaneously making loons flightless for a few weeks every year. 21 December 2006.