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Birds of PSSS

waterfowl loons grebes cormorants alcids

photography © David Gluckman

Alcids

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What to look for:

  • Pigeon Guillemots in full winter plumage appear very pale with a white head, but be cautious of molting birds in late fall or early spring. Broad white wingpatches are diagnostic yearround, on water and in flight.
  • Common Murres are our largest alcid and are distinctly dark above and white below, but be cautious of molting birds in late fall or early spring.  In flight, they appear football-like with a dark notch at the collar.  The thin, black mascara-line is diagnostic on water and in flight.

 

 

 click to enlarge

What to look for:

  • Murrelets are the smallest alcids that frequent Puget Sound. Marbled Murrelets are dark above and white below with prominent white scapulars (on back at base of wing) and dark bills.  Neck position can vary from hunched (pictured above) to fully extended. Can be found in Puget Sound yearround (note: breeding plumage is dark brown).  Marbled Murrelets are most often seen in pairs.
  • Ancient Murrelets can be found in Puget Sound October through March.  They are most commonly seen in November and December in small flocks (but sometimes in pairs) in flight, where a light bill and a dark cap contrasting with a gray back should be apparent.  Interestingly, this species immediately dives when it lands on the water.

 

 

 

 

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