Pacific Loon

Gavia pacifica




Loons (Gaviidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Brown with black brown spots.

Number of Eggs:

1 - 3

Incubation Days:

23 - 25

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Stems, roots, and mud.





Pacific Loon: Medium-sized loon with black and white checkered back and white underparts; gray crown and nape. Iridescent throat patch can appear purple, green or black; iris deep brown-red; bill black; legs black with light gray on the inner side, feet gray. Sexes are similar. Winter adult has dark gray upperparts and a straight, sharp border between pale and dark areas on neck. Juvenile resembles winter adult but is more brown with pronounced white scaling on back; face is less white and has more brown; foreneck lacks white spots on wing coverts.

Range and Habitat

Pacific Loon: Found along the Western Coast of the United States during the fall and winter, and in Canada and Alaska, where they migrate for the breeding months. Found along the eastern coast of the Pacific Ocean and Arctic Ocean, along Canada's northern boundary. Can also be found in inland waterways and even lakes occurring along their migratory paths.

Breeding and Nesting

Pacific Loon: One to three brown eggs with black brown spots are laid on a platform of stems, roots, and mud built near the edge of water. Incubation ranges from 23 to 25 days and is carried out by both parents. Young start to fly at 60 to 65 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Pacific Loon: Their diet includes fish and aquatic invertebrates. They feed by diving underwater and pursuing prey such as fish, crustaceans and frogs. They frequently forage in fresh water adjacent to nest sites. They are pursuit divers and visual feeders. While foraging, they often look into the water with eyes below the surface, apparently searching for prey.


Pacific Loon: Generally quiet in winter; summer calls include a sharp "kwao" and a wail that rises in pitch.

Similar Species

Pacific Loon: Arctic Loon is larger, has a white flank patch, flatter crown, and winter bird lacks chin strap.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Also called the jugulum or throat patch, it is located on the front of the neck.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Wing covertsX
The feathers that cover and protect the flight feathers.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X