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Arctic Loon

Gavia arctica

Length: 26 inches Wingspan: 40 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: In breeding, dark throat, with striped breast and sides of neck.  Distinctive from other loons in non-breeding, with white patch on flanks.

Arctic Loon - Gavia arcticaThe Arctic Loon and the Pacific Loon were once considered one species, and are very close in appearance.  They are widely spread in northern Europe and Asia, but in North America, they only are usually found in parts of western Alaska during the summer breeding season.  Vagrants have been found elsewhere, however, with each of the U.S. west coast states (Oregon, California, and Washington) having records of the species. In Europe, the species is known as the "Black-throated Diver".

Habitat: During the summer breeding season, they are found on freshwater lakes.  Winters are spent on salt water, although often relatively close to shore.

Diet: Feeds on fish, crustaceans, and molluscs. 

Behavior: Feeds by making moderate to long-duration dives underwater, with dives that can last to nearly 2 minutes.

Nesting: Nests near freshwater, with the nest usually just a shallow scraped depression near the water's edge.  Both the female and male will incubate the eggs, and tend to the young.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Arctic Loon sightings

Song: Typically quite silent, except on the breeding grounds.  On breeding grounds, gives a long, mournful call, as well as simpler growling and croaking.

Migration: Those that breed in western Alaska are migratory, as are breeding birds in their Eurasian range.  Winters at sea, typically relatively near to shore, on coastlines or in estuaries.

Similar Species: Extremely similar to the Pacific Loon

Conservation Status: Arctic Loons have a large global range, and while some declines have been noted, the IUCN currently lists the Arctic Loon as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) - Arctic Loon

2) - Black-throated Diver (Arctic Loon)

3) - Black-throated Diver

Photo Information: May 31st, 2009 - Central Scotland - Steve Garvie - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Arctic Loon - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Arctic Loon Photos (coming soon!!)