great northern loon


Great northern loon (Gavia immer)

The great northern loon is a large member of the loon, or diver, family of birds. The great northern loon breeds in North America, Greenland, Iceland, and Great Britain. This species winters on sea coasts or on large lakes of south Europe and the United States, and south to north-western areas of Africa. This species, like all divers, is a specialist fish-eater, catching its prey underwater, diving as deep as 60 m (200 ft) and can remain underwater for as long as 3 minutes. Great northern loon nests are usually placed on islands, where ground-based predators cannot normally access them. 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.

photo credits: Loon, Baby Loons!, wiki

So if you didn’t already know, loons are my favorite animal. Common Loons in particular. I mean, they are just beautiful and they mate for life and always come back to the same spot on the same lake every year. There’s a pair in my cove at the lake and they’ve been there since I was seven.  Plus they call to each other with this crazy haunting howl every night. They’re just so amazing and if you don’t think so we need to have a long, serious talk about your priorities in life.

I still cannot believe that this has happened, but we’ve seen the loon bird with our own eyes! For me, the possibility of meeting like this was a plot from fairy tales. It is all because of mystery loons’ fantastic migration habits are shrouded in - who haven’t heard of enormous distances grey northern loons manage to fly and their endurance? And Wikipedia also adds: “Its flying speed is as much as 120 km/h (75 mph) during migration.” Our one is black-throated loon. Here it is!

Such a grace! It moves astonishingly! Legs are seemed to be strong and they are nicely coloured:

I really like the way it moves, and the shape of its body, and this long, spotless, final accord beak it has. About legs however, I did decide mistakenly that they had been hurt as they moved sort of away of bird’s body; I hadn’t known about certain details of loons’ body structure. In fact, legs of these birds are arranged in this close-to-tail way. Wikipedia helps again: “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 […]” (it’s about great northern loons).

Loons have unique voices. As I’ve discovered, they are really famous because of their voices and calls’ variations. Here the examples are (here are great northern loons’ voice examples as well). The examples are from wonderful xeno-canto I’ve written about, and you simply cannot miss this!

And here’s a Great Northern Loon. Not necessarily my favorite bird, but I love the name. They are usually called Common Loons here, and Great Northern Divers across the pond, but some ornithologists came up with a compromise name for some fancy official bird list (the IOC World Bird List).

Birders love to make fun of this name, but it sounds like a pretty good description of me…