Common Loon

Last Updated on April 4, 2023 by Susan Levitt

The Common Loon is one of the most recognizable birds in North America. With its black and white plumage, red eyes, and haunting yodel-like calls, it’s no wonder that this species has become a symbol of the wild places they inhabit. They’re an integral part of our environment, but unfortunately, they face a number of threats to their survival. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating life cycle and behaviors of the common loon and discuss some of the conservation efforts being made to ensure its future.

From laying eggs on remote lakes to diving for food in deep waters, loons have adapted over time to thrive in their habitats throughout North America. Their unique physiology gives them incredible abilities such as flying up to 70 miles per hour and diving up to 200 feet below the surface for food! Not to mention their beautiful territorial call that can be heard from across large bodies of water.

Despite their impressive abilities, common loons are threatened by various human activities such as shoreline development and water pollution. Conservationists are working hard to protect these iconic birds from further harm by monitoring populations and advocating for regulations on human activities that directly impact them. Through understanding more about their lives and needs, we can help ensure these animals remain an integral part of our wild spaces.

Description Of Species

The Common Loon is a remarkable species of bird, with an average wingspan of up to 5 feet and a body length up to 3 feet. It’s known for its signature black and white feathers, as well as its distinctive yodel-like call which can be heard echoing across lakes in the summertime. This species is also renowned for its long-distance migrations – they can travel up to 1,500 miles round trip each year!

In terms of diet, the Common Loon will feed on a variety of aquatic life such as fish, crustaceans and amphibians. They are able to dive underwater in search of food thanks to their strong webbed feet. With regards to habitat, they are most abundant in freshwater lakes and ponds but can also be found in coastal areas during the winter months. Moving on…

Breeding Habits

The common loon breeds in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. In the spring, they build their nests on a grassy mound or a floating platform close to the shoreline. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs for about 28 days until they hatch. The young loons will stay with their parents for up to two years before becoming independent.

During the breeding season, adults defend their territory aggressively against other loons. They are also strongly territorial during migration and wintering periods. Loons will often establish lifelong pair bonds which may last 10-20 years or more. This strong bond helps ensure successful breeding each year and the survival of the species overall.

The next section will discuss habitat and migration of common loons.

Habitat And Migration

Ah, the life of a common loon – what could be more idyllic? They get to traverse vast distances of the world’s oceans and lakes, and they call it “migration”. How romantic! In reality, however, the habitat of the common loon is limited to North America and Eurasia. They migrate between their summer breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska, and Northern Europe to their winter habitats in the Southern United States and Mexico. The loon’s journey may include long stretches over open water with no land in sight.

The common loon prefers lakes with clear water because it allows them to see potential predators like fish and raptors from below the surface. This species also needs plenty of vegetation near the shoreline for protection from predators. Plus, they need shallow areas for easy access to food sources like fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates.

With this information about habitat and migration in mind, let’s move on to discuss diet and feeding behavior…

Diet And Feeding Behavior

The Common Loon has a varied diet that consists of fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and aquatic plants. They typically feed in the early morning and late evening, as they are most active during those times.

Their feeding behavior includes diving underwater to search for prey. Common Loons can reach depths exceeding 200 feet while hunting in this manner. They also skim the surface of the water with their bill open to capture food items. In addition, they utilize a ‘sit-and-wait’ technique by perching on vegetation or floating debris to ambush prey passing by.

  • They have specialized eyesight for underwater visibility.
  • Their feathers help keep them insulated while beneath the surface.
  • Their long toes provide propulsion for swimming and diving deep into the water column.
  • With their serrated bill, they grip slippery prey and carry it in flight away from predators.
  • The adults teach their chicks how to hunt effectively by bringing them food and guiding them through exercises.

Given these capabilities combined with their diverse diet, Common Loons have become adept hunters within freshwater habitats across North America, Europe, and Asia. As such, they are able to maintain healthy populations in these areas throughout the year. By mastering these techniques, Common Loons are able to survive in such challenging environments with relative ease. With this understanding of their diet and feeding behavior firmly established, we can now take a closer look at their vocalizations throughout different parts of the year.


As if calling out to the wilderness, the common loon’s voice echoes through the night. This winged creature’s vocalizations are among its most recognizable features and can be heard from over a mile away. Their calls range from a deep, guttural chuckle to a wild, yodeling song. They also make an eerie, tremulous note that is used to signal danger or aggression.

The sounds of the common loon are so distinct that they have been immortalized in literature and art throughout history. Its haunting call has been celebrated as both a harbinger of peace and a reminder of nature’s beauty and power. With its melodic tones, it weaves together the stillness of its environment with an unforgettable melody. The end of this song signals a transition into the next part of its story – predators and threats.

See also  Common Grackle

Predators And Threats

The common loon faces many threats from predators. Its nest and eggs are vulnerable to predation by large birds such as eagles, gulls, ravens, and crows. Smaller avian attackers like jays and kingfishers have also been known to raid loon nests. Mammals like mink, raccoons, bears, foxes, skunks, and weasels may also be drawn to loon nests looking for a meal.

EaglesPredation of nests & eggsLoss of nesting sites & young chicks
GullsEgg predationLoss of young chicks
MinkNest predationLoss of nests & eggs
RaccoonsNest predationLoss of nesting sites & eggs

Predatory attacks can present an ongoing threat to the survival of the common loon population. The animals listed above may cause loons a great deal of stress due to their frequent visits to their nesting sites. Even if these predators do not take away any eggs or chicks, the disruption caused by their presence can still negatively affect the success rate of the loons’ reproductive efforts. As a result, it is important for conservationists and wildlife management professionals to address this issue in order to ensure that common loons remain safe from harm in their natural habitats. Transitioning into conservation status…

Conservation Status

Like a ship in an uncertain sea, the common loon has faced a tumultuous journey in pursuit of conservation. The species has seen both highs and lows as it navigates through its ever-changing environment. Currently listed as of ‘least concern’ on the IUCN Red List, loons have experienced a positive shift in their population numbers. Despite this, human activities such as overfishing, water pollution and climate change still threaten their habitats.

Loons are also threatened by lead poisoning from ingesting fishing sinkers and lures. But with more awareness and proactive conservation efforts like banning lead sinkers and fishing line recycling programs, the common loon’s future may be more secure than before. With greater support for protecting water sources, loons may yet take flight to safety. Transitioning now into the relationship between humans and common loons…

Relationship To Humans

Despite its status as a protected species, the common loon has not been without its detractors. Some fishermen have complained that the birds harass their lines and steal their catches, while others have noted that loons are capable of defecating near their boats, leaving a strong odor. Furthermore, some people fear that the noise made by the common loon may disturb other wildlife in the area.

Still, many people appreciate the presence of these majestic birds and value them for their beauty and unique calls. Tourists flock to lakeside destinations to catch a glimpse of these creatures swimming in their natural environment. Bird watching is also a popular pastime among those who appreciate nature and admire these birds from afar. With continued conservation efforts, humans and loons alike can co-exist.

Moving on to interesting facts about the common loon, they are one of only two North American bird species whose chicks can dive to depths over 20 feet in search of food!

Interesting Facts

The common loon is a majestic and mysterious creature. Its haunting call alone can send shivers down your spine, but did you know that the common loon has much more to offer? Here are some interesting facts about this beautiful bird:

  • Common loons have webbed feet which help them dive up to 200ft in search of food.
  • They are able to sleep while floating on water and they also use their wings as rudders for steering.
  • The common loon’s diet consists of fish, crustaceans, frogs, and aquatic insects.

No matter what time of year it is, you can always appreciate the beauty and grace of the common loon. With its haunting call echoing through the sky and stunning plumage, it is no wonder why so many people admire this species. Now that we know more about the common loon’s fascinating characteristics and behaviors, let’s explore where we may be able to see them.

Where To See Them

The common loon is a fascinating bird to watch and can be found in much of North America. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of one, here are some great places to look.

LocationBest Time To Visit
Northern LakesSummer
Southern CoastlinesSpring/Fall
Great PlainsWinter
Rocky MountainsSummer/Fall

Northern lakes, especially those located in Canada or the northern United States, are the best place to view loons during the summer months. The abundance of fish and other aquatic life make it an ideal location for them. Southern coastline areas near Florida and Texas tend to have more loons during spring and fall when they migrate through these regions. The Great Plains region offers prime loon sightings during winter months as they look for open water in which to find food. Rocky Mountain regions offer some of the most stunning scenery with a variety of wildlife, including loons that can be seen throughout the summer and fall months.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful morning watching the sunrise or an evening full of stars, any of these locations will surely provide an unforgettable experience when searching for common loons.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Common Loon?

The average lifespan of a loon can vary greatly, depending on factors such as the species, environmental conditions, and habitat. Loons are considered long-lived birds and usually have a life expectancy of around 20 years in the wild. However, some species may live up to 30 years or longer. Here’s what to consider when looking at their lifespan:

  • Loons molt every year and require plenty of food in order to build new feathers for their breeding season.
  • Predators such as raccoons, foxes, hawks, and owls are a constant threat throughout their lives.
  • Loons are impacted by human activity and can be injured or killed by fishing gear, boat collisions, water pollution, or habitat destruction.
  • As with any animal, illness or disease can reduce the life expectancy of a loon.

Overall, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact lifespan for loons due to numerous external factors that could affect them. Despite these challenges, loons are resilient creatures who have been living in our lakes and rivers for centuries and will continue to do so with proper conservation efforts in place.

See also  Lesser White-Fronted Goose

How Can I Help Protect The Common Loon Population?

As the saying goes, “Every little bit helps”; the same is true when it comes to helping protect the common loon population. While these birds have a relatively long lifespan, their numbers have been steadily declining due to human activities and environmental factors. To help prevent further decline, there are several steps one can take.

The first measure is to become informed about the threats that loons face so that you can be sure to avoid them. This includes avoiding using chemicals near water bodies where loons live, as well as becoming aware of any local ordinances that may affect loon habitats and populations. Additionally, you can help by supporting conservation efforts in your area and advocating for better protection of loon habitats.

To ensure that future generations of loons will continue to thrive, here are some additional actions you can take:

  • Reduce your impacts on the environment:
  • Cut down on plastic use
  • Conserve energy by turning off lights when not in use
  • Support organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife:
  • Donate money or time to groups working towards conservation efforts
  • Participate in cleanups or volunteer with local wildlife rehabilitation centers

By taking these measures, we can make a real difference in preserving loon populations for years to come. It’s important for us all to do our part for nature and wildlife; with our collective effort we can create a brighter future for both ourselves and the animals we share our planet with.

How Does The Common Loon Interact With Other Bird Species?

Interactions between bird species are an important part of the natural environment. Understanding how different species interact can help us to better protect them. This makes it important to consider how the common loon interacts with other bird species.

The common loon is a solitary waterbird, though it does breed in colonies and may gather in large numbers on migrations or when wintering. It has been observed interacting with many birds that share habitats, such as grebes, geese, ducks, and cormorants. For example, the common loon has been observed chasing away grebes from its territory while defending its nest. In addition to territorial disputes, loons have also been seen feeding alongside several species of ducks and geese.

This suggests that common loons can be both antagonistic and cooperative with other bird species depending on the situation. By understanding these interactions, we can learn more about how to protect this species and other birds in its habitat.

Are The Eggs Of The Common Loon Edible?

It’s no secret that eggs are a common staple in many diets, but did you know that the eggs of the Common Loon also make for an interesting meal? As it turns out, the answer to this question is more complicated than one might expect.

To begin with, we should consider whether or not loon eggs are actually edible. While loon eggs may be eaten by humans, there are some risks involved. For starters, loon eggs may contain parasites and bacteria that can cause severe food poisoning when ingested. Additionally, because these birds live in areas where sources of pollution are often high, the quality of their eggs can be questionable.

When it comes to eating loon eggs, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Eating raw or undercooked loon eggs can put you at risk for foodborne illnesses.
  • Foraging for wild-caught loon eggs requires a license and should only be done with caution as these birds are protected by law.
  • It’s best to avoid consuming loon eggs unless you know for certain that they have been properly cooked and inspected for quality control.

Given all of this information, it’s important to keep in mind that consuming loon eggs is not without its risks and should only be done with caution – after all, it pays to err on the side of caution! All things considered, if you’re looking for a unique culinary experience without putting your health at risk, then perhaps you should look elsewhere for your egg-based dishes!

Are There Any Other Species That Look Like The Common Loon?

Have you ever seen a bird that looks similar to a loon but isn’t quite one? There are several species of waterfowl that resemble loons in some ways, but they all have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we’ll explore some of the other birds that may be mistaken for the common loon.

The red-necked grebe is a waterfowl commonly found in North America and it has many traits similar to loons. It has a long, thin bill and its plumage is black and white with bright red patches on its neck. The horned grebe also looks like a loon but is smaller in size and has distinctive yellowish-brown feathers on its head. Additionally, the eared grebe has chestnut-colored feathers on its back and sides and its bill is slightly shorter than that of the loon. Lastly, the western grebe is one of the largest species of waterfowl and it has a mix of gray and black feathers with white spots along its wings.

All these species have their own distinct markings, behaviors, habitats, and diets so even if they look similar to loons it’s important to be able to recognize each individual species. You can use field guides or online resources to learn more about them so you can accurately identify them when out in nature.


It’s no surprise that the majestic Common Loon is beloved by so many–it’s an incredible species with a unique look and a fascinating lifestyle. Unfortunately, these birds are threatened by human activities, which is why it’s so important to do our part to help protect them. That being said, it’s time for us to realize that we have the power to make a difference and keep these beloved creatures around for generations to come.

Let’s not forget about the remarkable eggs of the Common Loon. These eggs are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world and should be savored and cherished whenever possible. I’m sure those of us who have tried them can agree that they’re truly exquisite!

It goes without saying that all bird species should be respected and appreciated, but there’s something special about the Common Loon that will always make me look twice when I spot one in its natural habitat. So let’s get out there, enjoy their beauty, and do our best to protect them!

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