Common Loon

Gavia immer

The Common Loon breeds over most of Canada and Alaska. They spend winters in coastal regions of most of North America. Perhaps no other bird symbolizes the far north, more than the Common Loon. Anyone who has ever heard their haunting yodel call is not likely to forget it. Hollywood loves it so much they use it often for background sound effects.

Loon’s legs and feet are positioned so far to the rear it makes them almost crippled on land. But in the water this geometry provides them with incredible skill as agile swimmers and gives them the ability to capture fish while diving.

Most of my meetings with Common Loons have been on their wintering homes. But once, while driving to Alaska (2005), I witnessed them in their summer finery as I traveled north through British Columbia.

Most birds born in the far north are left to find their own way south to their summer homes. Parents usually leave the breeding grounds before their offspring. Common Loons are no exception. It is one of the wonders of nature just how the new generation of such a birth can pull off this feat.

Today’s science does not recognise any subspecies of this bird (i.e. they are monotypic).

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