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Common Loons Molting

9-30-13 molting loon MH_20091004_214955_3Loons begin a full body molt (minus their wings) in the late summer and early fall, prior to migration. The black and white breeding plumage of adult loons in summer is replaced by the gray-brown of winter. This process typically begins at the base of the bill and spreads across the head and over the upper back. The process of molting can extend through migration on into December.

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2 responses

  1. Ned

    Hi, Mary. Where do the loons go when they migrate??

    September 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    • Hi Ned,
      As far as New England loons, most are thought to spend the winter along the New England coast. Here’s what Cornell’s Birds of North America’s latest information states: Migratory movements along the Atlantic Coast occur in both coastal and offshore areas and likely represent breeding populations from the Canadian Maritimes, far e. Quebec, Newfoundland, and w. Greenland breeding populations. The very large loons in Maine, New Brunswick, and e. New Hampshire do not migrate far and primarily over-winter in the Gulf of Maine, while smaller loons from other New England and New York breeding populations migrate to Long Island Sound south to New Jersey. Large numbers of fall migrants originating from Ontario and Quebec stage on Lake Ontario, move through the Finger Lakes area of New York, and arrive in Chesapeake Bay.

      September 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm

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