Caring for the Rare Yellow-Billed Loon

A rare Yellow-billed Loon was sighted swimming near the Cabrillo Beach Pier in San Pedro, CA with fishing line wrapped around its body and wings and trailing behind it on Friday, January 19. Photo by Naresh Satyan

A rare Yellow-billed Loon is now in care at Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center after it was discovered entangled in fishing line while swimming around the Cabrillo Beach Pier in San Pedro, CA on Friday, January 19.

The loon was observed with fishing gear wrapped around its body and wings and trailing behind it, causing limited mobility. Nearby onlookers promptly contacted Cabrillo Beach lifeguards and Marine Mammal Care Center who successfully captured the loon from a boat, removed the debris, and transported it to Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center.

“We are incredibly grateful to members of the public who alerted rescuers to this injured and entangled bird,” said JD Bergeron, CEO of International Bird Rescue. “Without the quick reporting and rescue, birds in crisis often succumb to these human caused injuries.”

The Yellow-billed Loon (right) is recovering in a pelagic pool alongside a Common Loon, who is also healing from injuries caused by fishing gear entanglement. Photo by Ariana Gastelum – International Bird Rescue

During intake, staff discovered wounds on both of the loon’s wings as well as the sides of its mouth. Otherwise, the bird is alert and eating on its own, recovering in a pelagic pool alongside a Common Loon who is also a victim of fishing line entanglement. They are close in size and appearance, but the Yellow-billed Loon’s winter plumage appears overall lighter, and its bill is uniquely paler.

Yellow-billed Loons are listed as a near-threatened species. They spend their summers on high Arctic tundra, winters off wild northern shores, and occur only in very small numbers south of Canada, according to Audubon.

You can support loons recovering from the effects of a changing world by adopting a loon in care.

Saving threatened species is not only an ethical imperative but also a practical necessity for maintaining the health of our planet’s ecosystems. This work serves as a testament to our dedication to preserving the natural world for future generations. Your support can make a significant impact; consider donating to Bird Rescue’s efforts today and be a part of the collective effort to save waterbirds in crisis.