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Pacific Loon

Gavia pacifica ORDER: GAVIIFORMES FAMILY: GAVIIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Pacific Loon is perhaps the most abundant loon in North America. It spends most of the year on the Pacific Ocean, returning to inland Arctic tundra lakes only for three months in summer to breed.

Bird Festivals
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Appearance

Ducklike
Ducklike
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Large waterbird, medium-sized loon.
  • Long body.
  • Rounded head and nape.
  • Relatively thin, pointed bill.
  • Dark flanks.

Immature Description

Similar to nonbreeding adults; dark gray upperparts and white throat, chest, and belly.

Range Map Help

Pacific Loon Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

Similar Species

  • Arctic Loon is nearly identical, but has a flatter crown and white along the flanks, especially near the rump. Nonbreeding Arctic Loon lacks a "chinstrap," and does not have a band that extends all the way across the vent.
  • Nonbreeding Common Loon similar, but is larger, has a jagged border between the dark hindneck and white throat, an indistinct white collar, and white crescents around the eyes.
  • Winter Red-throated Loon usually has a white face with white behind the eye and an indistinct border between white and black on the neck, but it can look very similar to Pacific Loon. Red-throated Loon usually keeps its bill pointed slightly upward and has a spotted, not barred, back.