Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



Dinsmore, "Red-throated Loon at Lake McConaughy," Nebraska Bird Review (June 1999) 67(2).


Copyright 1999, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


On 8 May 1998 I observed a Red-throated Loon at Lake McConaughy in Keith County, Nebraska. I was scanning Arthur Bay when I spotted a small loon swimming with several Western Grebes. I immediately recognized the bird as a Red-throated Loon in basic plumage. I studied and photographed the bird from 2:25 to 3:13 p.m. The bird was slightly larger and shorter-necked than a Western Grebe. The plumage was quite plain. The throat, cheek, foreneck, and underparts were white. The forehead, crown, nape, mantle, and wings were dark gray with a few pale spots on the mantle. The bill was very short and thin and the lower mandible was angled upward, giving the bill an upturned appearance. The area surrounding the eye was white. The bird also held its head tilted slightly upward. The distinction between dark gray and white on the head and neck was less clearcut than on a Pacific Loon. I concluded that the bird was probably an adult in basic plumage because of the dark-backed appearance, although it is possible the bird was molting from first-basic to first-alternate plumage.