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Common Loon

Huard

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Common Loon

Facts about the Common Loon

Family: Gaviidae
Length: 70 cm to 90 cm
Weight: 3.6 kg to 4.5 kg
Wingspan: 1.25 to 1.48 m
Sexual maturity: 2 to 3 years

  • Red eyes
  • Black head and bill
  • White collar around neck
  • Long pointed bill

The Common Loon (Gavia immer), also called the great northern diver, is one of the five species in the loon family, which also includes the Yellow-billed Loon, Artic loon, Pacific loon and Red-throated Loon.

The  Common Loon spends winter on the Pacific or Atlantic coast. During summer, it can be observed in most parts of Canada.

Outstanding diver

HuardThe  Common Loon is an excellent diver. Underwater, it uses its powerful feet for propulsion, and only uses its wings to change direction. When diving for fish, it generally stays underwater less than a minute. This loon can descend to depths of up to 70 metres and, if needed, can remain underwater for three full minutes.

Enchanting call

The loon’s call is enchanting and easily recognizable. The sound, which varies according to circumstances, can be used to defend its territory, signal danger or locate other members of the same family.

Checkered back

In summer, the loon’s back, or mantle, develops a black and white checkered pattern, while the belly remains white. In winter, the plumage turns duller and greyish. Males and females have identical plumage, making them difficult to distinguish. However, the female loon is smaller.

Nesting by still waters

HuardsThe loon spends its summers on tranquil lakes where the water is deep and clear. The male and female share in building the nest, which is made by piling up aquatic plants and other materials on a dry spot next to water. The female lays two eggs in May or June. Both partners take turns sitting on the eggs.

Protective parents

The eggs hatch after an incubation period of about 30 days, and the fledglings leave the nest on the first day of their lives. Parents look out for the chicks by transporting them on their backs, to protect them from predators and allow them to rest. Parents feed their young until the age of eight weeks. One month later, they’re able to fly.

Vulnerable chicks

HuardsTwo days after hatching, the young birds can already dive, but the first two weeks of life are precarious. The inexperienced and vulnerable chicks often fall prey to large fish, turtles or predatory birds.

 

 

Fishy diet

The common loon feeds mainly on fish. Occasionally, it supplements its diet with invertebrates, amphibians and plants. During the summer season, a loon couple must catch nearly 500 kg of fish to feed their young.

Migration

When fall arrives, the loon leaves its nesting grounds to migrate south. Travelling alone or in a small group, the bird spends winter in the warmer regions of the east or west coast of North America. In spring, when the ice melts, it returns to nest in the north.

Easily disturbed

HuardA symbol of the wilderness and solitude, the common loon is highly susceptible to human intrusion. Since the beginning of the 20th century, populations have declined considerably. The decline is attributed primarily to habitat loss, the effects of atmospheric pollution and the contamination of waterways by acid rain and mercury.

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Comments

Huard

Par Lucie Savard, 2016-12-05, 14h08

Je reste aux lac sept-iles a St-Raymond Quebec,il y a un Huard sur le lac encore aujourd'hui j'aimerais savoir si c'est normale

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