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Red-throated Loon

Gavia stellata ORDER: GAVIIFORMES FAMILY: GAVIIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The smallest of the loons, the Red-throated Loon breeds at high latitudes in North America and Eurasia. It is distinctive among loons not only in size, but also in behavior, vocalizations, locomotion, and other aspects of life history.

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Appearance

Ducklike
Ducklike
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Large waterbird, small loon.
  • Thin bill, usually tilted slightly upward.
  • Long body slopes to rear.
  • Sits low on water.
  • Relatively slim proportions overall.
  • Dives under water.
  • Dark gray with a red throat in summer.
  • Pale gray and white in winter.

Immature Description

Juvenile and first-winter Red-throated Loons have dull blackish-gray upperparts with white feather edges. Front of neck is mottled, not clear white as on adult. Dark of top of head may extend to include the eyes.

Range Map Help

Red-throated Loon Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

  • Breeding Adult

    Red-throated Loon

    Breeding Adult
  • Juvenile

    Red-throated Loon

    Juvenile
    • © Hawkperson, Los Gatos Creek County Park, California, December 2011
  • Juvenile

    Red-throated Loon

    Juvenile

Similar Species

  • Cormorants have longer necks and blunt-tipped or slightly hooked bills and are not white on chest or throat.
  • Common Loon has thicker bill usually held horizontally, a darker face in winter with dark encompassing the eyes, and a faint pale collar on the neck.
  • Winter Pacific Loon has a mostly dark face without white behind the eye, and a distinct border between white and black on the neck. Pacific usually keeps its bill pointed horizontally, and has a barred, not spotted back.