West Seattle wildlife: ‘Common’ yet uncommon bird sighting

Shared by Alki photographer David Hutchinson, who says, “My wife and I came across this Common Loon in Elliott Bay while walking near Salty’s this evening.” (The bird may be deemed “common” by name, but its beauty is anything but!)

22 Replies to "West Seattle wildlife: 'Common' yet uncommon bird sighting"

  • Dana April 26, 2012 (8:52 pm)

    My goodness – the maroon eye and the beads of water glistening on his face. Dave – you’re a fab photog!

  • Mike April 26, 2012 (8:53 pm)

    talk about a rare find in these parts, cool pic

  • Ames April 26, 2012 (8:57 pm)

    Wow! I grew up on a lake in Minnesota and we were fortunate to have these ‘common’ loons around regularly. They are the Mn state bird, but they don’t have a high population and tend to avoid busy areas. Hearing their callings is one of the things I miss most about living there. So gorgeous!

  • Shannon April 26, 2012 (8:58 pm)


  • cathyw April 26, 2012 (8:59 pm)

    OOOOOOOOO! I love Loons. Thanks for posting this.

  • coffee April 26, 2012 (9:11 pm)

    So nice to see! My family has a turn of the century cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota and the lake has hundreds of Loons! How I miss them.

  • anon April 26, 2012 (9:43 pm)

    lovely photo, thank you for sharing!

  • DTK April 26, 2012 (9:45 pm)

    What length glass?

  • Sandi April 26, 2012 (10:24 pm)

    Thanks for posting such a wonderful photo! I have never seen a loon this close-up. I agree it is anything but common.

  • herongrrrl April 26, 2012 (10:36 pm)

    Gorgeous photo! Common Loons are actually fairly common here in the winter, but usually don’t take on that beautiful summer plumage (or give their characteristic haunting call) until they’ve migrated back inland. So in that sense, yes, a rare sighting! Keep your eyes open, and you may yet see some around WS waters.

    Here’s a link with their winter plumage and migration info…seems like they’re hanging around a little longer than usual this year.

  • cjboffoli April 26, 2012 (11:07 pm)

    I can’t see loons and not think of the sound of Katharine Hepburn’s voice saying “The loons, Norman, the loons!” I used to spend some time in the summer at Squam Lake in New Hampshire where they filmed On Golden Pond so it was always great to see and hear them there. I had no idea until now that there were loons here.

  • lolita April 27, 2012 (1:44 am)

    i noticed this beautiful avian eye catcher
    creature perched on our kitty-cat corner neighbors tree. my grandmother was the first to notice and believes the nest must be somewhere in the neighborhood (arbor heights)????

  • Jordan April 27, 2012 (6:40 am)

    Fantastic capture. Was looking at the EXIF thinking you must have been right on top of that loon, but a nice sharp shot from a distance.

  • sam-c April 27, 2012 (8:16 am)

    amazing photo, and how fitting to post yesterday on Audubon’s birthday.

    though I like the bird photos any day.

  • mrsB April 27, 2012 (10:35 am)

    We heard a loon a few weeks/months ago at Emma Schmitz Viewpoint on Beach Drive, late afternoon. It’s such an unmistakable haunting sound. Just wish we could have see it too.

    • WSB April 27, 2012 (10:48 am)

      It IS a beautiful sound. If you follow the hotlink on the phrase “common loon” in the story, it goes to a BirdWeb page about common loons, including an audio file. I played it last night before putting this up and it certainly startled the cats :) … TR

  • Deanie Schwarz April 27, 2012 (10:51 am)

    Isn’t it beautiful? It is one of my faves that I kind of geek out on.

    Loons are unique water birds that have ancestors which trace back 60 plus million years. We’re talking dinosauer eras!

    The current scientific wisdom tells us they are more likely genetically related to penguins and perhaps – though not certain as far as I have read – grebes.

    Their bones are solid whereas most birds are hollow. They are therefore heavy but strong swimmers/divers who can stay submerged for 10-15 minutes! Note how it sits lower in the water than other birds. Those dense bones, along with the location of their feet in the posterior, makes for “running” starts on water surfaces to get momentum for take offs; it also makes for big splashes on landings.

    I have never heard their call here in the PNW, but I was lucky to hear and see them while visiting Minnesota.

    So yeah! Great pic by David, as usual, of a fascinating ancient bird.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • miws April 27, 2012 (11:16 am)

    I believe Loons are quite common around Alki, these first warmer and sunnier days of Spring…








  • T-Rex April 27, 2012 (12:52 pm)

    “The loons Norman, can you hear the loons Norman?”

  • rats April 27, 2012 (2:27 pm)

    Nice one Mike!

  • WTF April 27, 2012 (8:19 pm)

    Mike, so cool.

  • Jacquie April 29, 2012 (4:08 pm)

    My big brother lived on a MN lake every Summer.
    When we visited them a favorite memory was of the loons calling. He said the male called to his female who was tending the babies who would answer to let him know they were okay… also that the two are mated for life. Better record than most humans.

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