Common Loon

Gavia immer




Loons (Gaviidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive green to dark brown with dark brown spots.

Number of Eggs:

1 - 3

Incubation Days:

26 - 31

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Bed of stems, grasses, and twigs.





Common Loon: Large loon with white-spotted, black upperparts and white underparts. Head and neck are green-black with white-streaked neckbands. Bill is black and thick. Sexes are similar. Winter adult and juvenile have dark upperparts, dull white mottled underparts, throat, and chin, and gray bill.

Range and Habitat

Common Loon: Breeds from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and northern Canada south to Washington, Montana, and Massachusetts; may occur further south, also breeds in Greenland and Iceland. Spends winters along the Great Lakes, and the Gulf, Atlantic, and Pacific coasts. Preferred nesting habitat is on forested lakes and rivers; winters mainly on coastal bays and oceans.

Breeding and Nesting

Common Loon: One to three olive green to dark brown eggs, with dark brown spots, are laid in a nest made of vegetation near deep water, allowing parents to swim to and from it undetected by predators; eggs remain exposed and uncovered when parents leave the nest to forage. Incubation ranges from 26 to 31 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Common Loon: Eats mostly fish and occasionally crustaceans such as crayfish; forages by diving from the surface and chasing down prey underwater.


Common Loon: Call is a loud, wailing laugh, also a mournful yodeled "oo-AH-ho" with a higher middle note; also makes a loud, ringing "kee-a-ree, kee-a-ree" with a lower middle note. Often calls at night.

Similar Species

Common Loon: Pacific and Red-Throated Loons have slender bills, paler heads and napes, and are smaller.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The area of the face just below the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X