photo by Phil Swanson
L 27″ (69 cm) W 60″ (152 cm).
Song or calls:
Loud, hoarse “cart-lage.”
Description: Sexes similar. All ages show distinctive translucent tips of white primaries. Breeding adults are pale gray above with a white head and underparts; yellow eyes; large yellow bill with red spot; and pink legs. Winter adult is similar to breeding but with light brown streaking on head and throat. Third winter birds are like adults but have dark smudge on bill and some buff on the body. Second winter birds are similar to third winter birds but have less gray on back. First winter birds vary from buffy to all white, and have a pale bill with a black tip.
Habitat: Migrants can be found on rivers, lakes, and coastal shorelines.
Food: Preys on eggs, unattended young birds, and even adult auklets. Has also been known to force eiders to disgorge their food.
Where in Nebraska: Rare vagrant. There are at least three sightings from Lancaster County (Branched Oak Lake), and other sightings from Douglas, Dawes, Keith (Lake McConaughy), Garden, Harlan (Harlan County Reservoir), and Scotts Bluff Counties.
Fun Facts: Younger individuals tend to migrate further south than adults for their winter range.