Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yellow-billed Loon: Memento Mori

Recently, many bay area birders were lucky enough to see an adult Yellow-billed Loon that visited south San Francisco Bay. It was in a strange place and was reported to be slightly oiled, but it foraged athletically and did not behave like a very sickly bird. Appearances can be deceiving however, and several days ago a birder reported finding the loon dead in the water. In honor of this royal vagrant, I offer this poorly-executed and incredibly cheesy haiku.

The Death Of A Loon

Yellow-billed Loon
You came to us late at night
A gift from far north

Crippling vagrant
You made many faces melt
Twitchers did twitch much

Sunnyvale is nice
But this is not Alaska
Where did you go wrong?

White-billed Diver
You made a "tick" bittersweet
Poor wayward vagrant

Our celebrity loon
You died sick and hungry
Oil in stomach

So now rest in peace
Gavia adamsii
Where no birders go.


  1. Hate to break it to you, SGS, but Great Northern Diver is the European name for Common Loon. White-billed Diver is their version of Yellow-billed Loon.


  2. I got one last year at about this time, here in Maine. It was a huge birding deal and created quite a stir. I also got lots of great pics. "Our" bird seemed healthy and did not come to any reported demise. But, then, who knows.......which way the loon wind blows.....

    Now who's being cheeky?? Nice post and I thought the Haiku was great.

  3. "twitchers did twitch much" This is so ridiculous that I am afraid it will pop in my head the next time I chase a rare bird.

  4. @Robin - Wow, that's a staggering bird out there. Thanks!

    @Jen - I have yet to actually see a twitcher twitch. Maybe I need an epileptic birding friend.