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I've been big clusters (low hundreds) of these birds floating close offshore in Vancouver.

My daughter thinks they are loons, but I doubt it. I'm thinking murrelets, from whatbird and wiki:

Some observations:

  • they're not big, pretty small. About the size of a pigeon.

  • They clump together in large floating rafts which is why a "solitary loon" pattern does not fit. The clusters stay put for a long time, with little arrivals or departures.

  • They dive often, but don't stay down long.

  • Top is black, breast is white. The neck seems black, which looks slight different from the white extending the bottom half of the murrelets' heads. Coloring is uniform, no patterns, no differences between individuals.

  • Don't look very endangered to me, there's a lot of them

  • They fly extremely quickly in groups, very close together and very, very, low on the water.

  • I think I mostly see these groups during winter, which would fit murrelets.

Sorry for the picture, if I walk by with a proper camera, I'll repost, but this was using cellphone under low light, zoomed.

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With the updated images, I am not totally sure all of them are of the same species. The ones with yellow bills seem different, even if they are together. Interested in the black-billed ones with white-on-black chevrons near their shoulder.

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  • I think i saw those off Lighthouse Park. – Martin F Jan 3 at 21:28
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These look like Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica) ducks. Definitely not Murres, and the beaks aren’t long enough relative to head size to be a loon.

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  • Indeed looks like very close match on wiki. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Jan 2 at 5:54
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    New photos make it clear, Barrows Goldeneyes. The black and white ones are the males, and the others are the females. – Van Jan 2 at 6:01
  • hah! shoulda thought of sexual dimorphism. – Italian Philosophers 4 Monica Jan 2 at 19:15

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