Common Loon

Larry Trupp

Winnipeg, Canada

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Artist's Description

Captured on Blue Lake in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Great Northern Loon:

The Great Northern Loon, Great Northern Diver, or Common Loon (Gavia immer), is a large member of the loon, or diver, family of birds. The species is known as a Common Loon in North America and the Great Northern Diver in Eurasia.

Adults can range from 61–100 cm (24–40 inches) in length with a 122–152 cm (4–5-foot) wingspan, slightly smaller than the similar Yellow-billed Loon (or “White-billed Diver”). The weight can vary from 1.6 to 8 kg (3.6 to 17.6 lbs). On average a Great Northern Diver is about 81 cm (32 inches) long, has a wingspan of 136 cm (54 inches), and weighs about 4.1 kg (9 lbs).

Breeding adults have a black head, white underparts, and a checkered black-and-white mantle. Non-breeding plumage is brownish, with the chin and foreneck white. The bill is black-blue and held horizontally. The bill colour and angle distinguish this species from the similar Yellow-billed Loon.

The bird needs a long distance to gain momentum for take-off, and is ungainly on landing. Its clumsiness on land is due to the legs being positioned at the rear of the body: this is ideal for diving but not well-suited for walking. When the birds land on water, they skim along on their bellies to slow down, rather than on their feet, as these are set too far back. The loon swims gracefully on the surface, dives as well as any flying bird, and flies competently for hundreds of kilometers in migration. It flies with its neck outstretched, usually calling a particular tremolo that can be used to identify a flying loon. Its call has been alternately called “haunting,” “beautiful,” “thrilling,” “mystical” and "enchanting.

Please take the time to listen to their call here

Camera Details: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi, 70-300mm Zoom Lens, Aperture exp 5.6, Shutter speed 1/500, ISO 200 Focal Length 300mm

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