English and Scientific names:

Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) 

Number of individuals: 

One basic adult

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Jackson Parish

Specific Locality:

Caney Creek Reservoir, Womack

Date(s) when observed:

24 January 2009

Time(s) of day when observed:  

9:20AM - 3:30 PM CST

Reporting observer and address:

Devin Bosler

Baton Rouge, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):


Justin Bosler

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):

Terry Davis, Charles Lyon (24 Jan 2009), Mac Myers, Paul Conover, m. ob. (25 Jan 2009)

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Overcast sky with low ceiling and low lighting.  Sun glare or backlighting not a problem.

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss Victory FL 8x42, Nikon Fieldscope w/ 20-60x optical zoom, Canon Powershot SD1100 IS  (all equipment in good condition)

Distance to bird(s): 

ca. 150-300 meters

Duration of observation:

off and on for 3+ hrs from mid-morning through late afternoon


Relatively deep, manmade freshwater lake in upland mixed pine-hardwood forest.  Lake reaches a depth of 60+ ft. in three sections, which makes it one of the deepest lakes in LA.

Behavior of bird/birder: 

The Red-throated Loon was observed swimming, diving, preening, and at rest.  It was first spotted as it surfaced amid a tight foraging group of Common Loons and Double-crested Cormorants.  Light rain and strong, gusty NE winds made it difficult to stay on the loon and obtain digiscoped photos.  For the remainder of the day, the loon was frequently diving and swimming, usually far from shore in the deeper water.  It was continuously on the move, covering a broad area of the lake, especially during the morning hours.  Often, the loon would spend one-two minutes underwater on a dive.  In the afternoon, it paused occasionally to preen and rest before diving again.


A relatively small, delicate loon with dark upperparts and white underparts.  White speckling and feather edges visible on back.  Entirely white face, throat, and breast with a sharply demarcated dark silvery-gray crown and hindneck.  Small, beady eye isolated on unmarked white face, below the dark crown.  Thin, slightly upturned dark bill.  Dark irides.



No, silent.  COLO were heard during the AM.

Similar species:

Common Loon (COLO) can be eliminated by slender, less robust build, relatively small head proportional to body, and thin, dark upturned bill.  RTLO rests lower to the water’s surface than most loons, especially COLO.  RTLO also lacks the chest bulge observed in other loons.  Pacific Loon (PALO) shows a darker face and neck, and adults with dark chinstrap.  On PALO, the upperparts are less patterned in winter and the eye is concealed within the dark on the face.   Also, the bill on PALO is straighter and stout, not slightly upturned or held at an angle as in RTLO. 

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Yes, digiscoped photos attached.  Photos by Devin Bosler.

Previous experience with this species: 

Previous experience with this species from Atlantic coast from Maine south to Delaware and Pacific coast in Washington.  Very familiar with this species. 

Identification aids:

National Geographic Complete Birds of N.A. (Alderfer et al. 2005).

This description is written from: 

notes made during the observation, notes made after the observation, memory.

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 




Devin Bosler 

Date and time: 

28 January 2009  4:00 PM CST