I’ve often been asked what I do to occupy my time during the count when it’s slow. One of the things that I enjoy doing is searching for feathers along the lakeshore. I can probably only ID a dozen birds based upon a single feather so I rely heavily upon iNaturalist for ID help. Once I post a photo or two of a feather on iNaturalist most of the time someone is able to ID it to species. Gull feathers are the most common along the shore but at this time of year, Common Loon feathers are all over the shore. Their body feathers are easily recognizable being black with two white dots towards the top, see photos here (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/95199143). Another feather that is easy to ID is those of owls. They are distinct in that they have a soft fuzz on the top of their feather, this enables them to fly silently. You can see some of the fuzz in the second photo of two Great Horned Owl wing feathers that I found washed up on shore at McGulpin Point. If you find some feathers and are curious about what species they are from you can post them on iNaturalist and use the identification tool on the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Feather Atlas (https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/).

* It is illegal to possess native bird feathers under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act *

Long-tailed Duck – https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/100238552

Common Grackle – https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/99568210

Red-breasted Merganser – https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/99496957

Mallard – https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/97162002

Grebe Sp. – https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/95543434

Common Loon – https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/95199143

Red-tailed Hawk – https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/94312414

Turkey Vulture – https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/94312250

Great Horned Owl – https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/93274987

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