Arctic Loon

Gavia arctica




Loons (Gaviidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive green to brown with black spots or blotches

Number of Eggs:

1 - 3

Incubation Days:

28 - 30

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground or floating

Nest Material:

Varies from mere scrape or depression to mound of earth and plants; usually it's loose structures made of aquatic vegetation.





Arctic Loon: Medium-sized loon with straight, stout bill, white-spotted black back and white flanks visible above water while swimming. Head and nape are gray. Neck has bold black and white stripes on sides and green or purple throat bar that may be difficult to see. Sexes are similar. Winter adult and juvenile have dark gray upperparts and dark cap extending to eyes.

Range and Habitat

Arctic Loon: Range is from Alaska to Siberia. Breeds in Russia, Scandinavia, Alaska and Canada. In the winter, it migrates to the coasts of the northeast Atlantic and eastern and western Pacific as far south as the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, China, Japan and southern Alaska. Preferred habitats include ocean, open water, and tundra lakes in the summer.

Breeding and Nesting

Arctic Loon: One to three black-spotted, olive green to brown eggs are laid in a ground nest made of soil and plants. Incubation ranges from 28 to 30 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Arctic Loon: Dives deep from the surface to catch small fish, crustaceans, and aquatic insects. When a fish is caught, the loon throws back its head and swallows fish headfirst; may fly long distances to larger bodies of freshwater or to the coast for food.


Arctic Loon: Makes a deep barking 'kwow" and eerie, wailing cries, often given in flight during the breeding season. Mostly quiet in winter.

Similar Species

Arctic Loon: Pacific Loon is smaller and has less white on flanks and rump.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The area on top of the head of the bird.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X