Common Name
COMMON LOON

Scientific Name
GAVIA IMMER

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Photo by Tim Provan
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The common loon, Gavia immer, is an uncommon migrant through Utah that is rare in the state during summer. Although there are anecdotal reports of the species nesting in Utah, the accepted breeding range includes most of Canada, as well as New England, much of the Great Lakes region, and the vicinity of Yellowstone National Park. Winters are spent at coastal areas throughout North America. The common loon is usually found on large, open lakes where it feeds primarily on live fish that it catches by diving from the surface, routinely to depths of fifteen feet, and sometimes much deeper.

Loons are territorial, especially during the breeding season. Territories are aggressively defended, and intruders may be killed. Nests are shallow scrapes on raised areas along shorelines or on islands. Usually two (rarely one to four) eggs are laid in May or June. Incubation duties are shared by both parents for 29 or 30 days. Young leave the nest site shortly after hatching. Both parents tend the young initially, but sometimes one of the parents leaves before the young are independent. Young can feed themselves after six weeks and are able to fly after twelve weeks.

Sources:

  • McIntyre, J. W., and J. F. Barr. 1997. Common loon (Gavia immer). Birds of North America 313: 32 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.

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