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June 2002


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Wayne Scott <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 29 Jun 2002 09:27:35 -0400
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- Birds of Special Note:

Yellow-billed Loon - NOT
Black Vulture

    After much scrutiny and comment (pro and con) from various respected
birders around the country, it has been determined that the ≥uncommon≤ loon
described in the RBA of June 26th and described as a probable YELLOW-BILLED
LOON, is a very odd COMMON LOON. Though there are characteristics,
especially with regard to the shape of the bill, that suggested this is a
YELLOW_BILLED, there were too many inconsistencies that argued to the
contrary. Thanks to all the birders who took the time to comment on the
photos and to both Paul Lehman and Louis Bevier for their analyses from
which I quote below:
    Louis Bevier:
≥It IS a Common Loon. I've run into these paler, worn one-yr old Commons
(either myself or via photos sent to me), in the Northeast quite regularly.
  Here were the salient points
Some Common Loons can show very pale bills, however, so care should be
taken.  Look at the upper ridge of the bill; Yellow-billed Loons may show
dark at the base of the bill here (immature birds) but always show pale in
the distal half or so.  Also look at the cutting edges of the bill--the
edges where the mandibles meet.  Yellow-billed is always clear yellow or
white there, whereas Common Loon is dark.
    There are other characters that differentiate Common and
Yellow-billed Loons, some of which are visible in the photograph. For
example, the cutting edges of the Common Loon are quite straight, whereas
the Yellow-billed Loon has the rear line of the cutting edges upturned,
giving it the appearance of smiling.  The feathering on the underside of the
bill extends out to below the nostril in Yellow-billed, but as can be seen
in the photograph, falls short of
that in Common.≤
    Paul Lehman:
≥I looked at the posted photos of the loon and I do not think it a
Yellow-billed... The bill looks somewhat deformed, and not typical of either
Common or Yellow-billed in shape - sort of intermediate with some odd angles
and changes in width. The bill also shows a bit too much dark. Also, the
bird seems a bit too cleanly dark above and light below in the head region,
as in Common, and not as in most Yellow-billeds. It is certainly an odd bird
overall, but again I do not think the photos look like a true, pure
    A BLACK VULTURE was seen among a resident group of more than 30 TURKEY
VULTURES in White River Junction, VT and West Lebanon, NH. The bird
apparently has been around for at least a week. Directions are as follows
with thanks to Dennis Abbott: The best spot to watch the sky is from Rt.12A
near Carroll's Concrete across from the landfill. A panoramic view is
available with the roost only about 1/4 mile to the west. There is plenty of
room to park on either side of the road in this area. Take Exit 20 on I-89
east and head south on Rt.12A for about 3/4 mile; go thru town and up the
hill , the entrance to the landfill is on the right half way up the hill,
but don't go into the landfill area.

Wayne Scott
Compiler, VT Rare Bird Alert

416 Hanover Center Road
Etna, NH 03750
(603) 643-0179
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