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Common Loon
Gavia immer
Family - GAVIIDAE (Loons)

The otherworldly calls of the Common Loon are not soon forgotten. These birds have a repertory of several calls: the hoot (“hoo—hoo—hoo”), the wail (“awooEEEE”), the tremolo (a vibrating “woo ee ooo”) and the yodel, which sounds something like its name. Yodels are strictly the calls of the male bird, are unique to each male, but can change if the male is forced into a new territory.

Loons are admirably built for life in the water—they can dive to 200 feet--and are fast swimmers; however, since their legs are set back on their bodies, they are not comfortable on land.

They have dense bones and average nine pounds in weight, with the males larger than the females. Because of their structure they cannot take off from land, so they skim along the surface of the water before taking flight.

Loons eat mostly fish and aquatic animals, with some vegetation included in their diet. They rely on their sight in their quest for food, so the water they live in must be clear.

They eat their prey both under water and on the surface. Both parents take care of the young, incubating the eggs, keeping the nest safe from predators, and feeding the young chicks hourly.

Eggs are laid in a clutch of two, three or four. You may see a young chick riding on its parent’s back.

Loons begin to breed at the age of two or three and most probably are monogamous. Nests are built on lakes near deep water so the parents can swim to and fro with relative safety.

The young can already dive when they are two days old and are ready to fly at about two to three months, when they no longer depend on their parents.

Nesting loons are easily upset and if there is too much human contact the loons may abandon the nest.

A loon pair establishes a territory of 60 to 200 acres and defends it. They migrate to a shallow marine habitat in winter.