Yellow-billed Loon
Gavia adamsii
The Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii) was long considered a species confined in the U.S. to Alaska and the northern Pacific coast. Reports of this species from inland states were viewed with doubt. That has all changed. Yellow-billed Loons have occurred across much of the western U.S., and in Texas virtually to the Mexican border in the Trans-Pecos area. The bird at right was photographed at Lake Balmorhea, Reeves Co., Texas in November, 1993 with a Canon T-90 & Sigma 500mm F/4.5 lens with a 1.4X extender on Kodachrome 200. The camera and lens were braced on the concrete dam at the lake. This bird represented the 2nd Texas record; there are now five well-documented records for Texas. See some shots at right of the 4th Texas record as well as some photos from Colorado. The next two shots show the 4th Texas record of this species, also at Lake Balmorhea. These shots were taken in December, 1996, with the same equipment and film as above. See below for two shots of this bird in flight.
There are probably not a lot of flight shots of Yellow-billed Loon, so thought I'd post two. These are not good quality since the image was cropped significantly and the film was grainy. These two flight shots were taken on 1 January 1997 at Lake Balmorhea as the above bird circled the lake a few times. It was last seen just two days after these photos were taken. The bill seems quite large on this species, so much so that some have described it as looking like a banana stuck on the front of the bird's face.
In April, 2000, a Yellow-billed Loon showed up near Colorado Springs, Colorado. I was in the area for a meeting, so I was able to see the bird and get a few shots. The two shots here were taken at Big Johnson Reservoir, El Paso Co., Colorado, with a Canon EOS 3 and EF 600mm F/4 L lens and 2X extender on Fuji Sensia. These images offer a nice comparison of the Yellow-billed Loon with a Common Loon.