Occasionally in the spring and summer odd looking Loons will show up on the lakes. I always get excited when I see one because it could be a Red-throated Loon or Pacific Loon (which are rare in Minnesota, but can occur during migration). But upon closer examination, I believe this Loon is a Common Loon in basic plumage.
Most of the Loons now are in their “alternate” or breeding plumage. But come fall and winter, the Common Loons molt back to their basic plumage. This bird is probably a 1st year bird and it won’t achieve it’s breeding plumage until next spring. Common Loons spend the winter at sea in places like the Gulf of Mexico, they are drab birds in the winter and don’t draw any attention to themselves with flashy plumage. They are also quiet in the winter. But when they get back up north, all that is put aside and they are one of the most beautiful and vocal birds of the northwoods.
Another water bird, the Hooded Merganser, in alternate, or breeding plumage. He extends his hood when displaying for the female.