Common Loon

Gavia immer
Range Map

The Common Loon breeds over most of Canada and Alaska. They spend winters in coastal regions of most of North America. Some of these birds breed in Greenland and Iceland, and spend winters along the shores of Iceland and northern Europe.

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 are positioned so far to the rear of their bodies, 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 in their winter homes in California, Utah, and on the Texas Gulf coast. But once, while driving to Alaska (2005), I witnessed them in their summer finery as I traveled north through British Columbia.

Birds born in the far north must find their own way south to their winter homes. Parents leave the breeding grounds before their offspring. Common Loons are no exception. It is a wonder of nature how the new generation of these birds can pull off such a feat.

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

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