Lake Wildlife: What’s that Bird?

Besides mallard ducks and Canada geese, here are other bird species you’re likely to see while paddling or boating around lakes in Eastern Washington and North Idaho:

  • American White Pelican:Found April-Sept. at large inland lakes living in colonies, this bird has an 8’ wingspan with black feathers on wing undersides. It dips its bill and pouch underwater to feed and makes grunting sounds at nesting time. 
  • Common Loon: During summer, a mature adult is distinguished by a black back with large white spots and white bands on its neck. Loons surface dive to feed and can be identified by listening for its “quavering laughter, yodeling” (according to the National Audubon Society).
  • Osprey:Found at lakes and rivers, it has a 5’6” wingspan with brown above and white below, and a dark line through its eye and makes a “kee-uk” call. Keep an eye out for their nests, which are a mass of sticks atop dead trees or on platforms atop poles. 
  • Red-Necked Grebe:Found May-August, during summer, it has a reddish foreneck and white cheeks and throat. Listen for its “wails and trills.” 
  • Western Grebe:Found April-Oct., it surface dives and has red eyes and a long, thin neck with a white front and black back; listen for its rolling “kerr-rick, kerr-rick” call.

Resources:National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwestand Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Online Guide to Birds & Bird Watching,

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