Red-throated Loon Life History


Habitat Lakes and PondsBreeds in low tundra wetlands, bogs, and ponds in forests. In migration, flocks stage on large lakes. Winters in relatively shallow, sheltered marine habitat.Back to top


Food FishMarine and freshwater fish.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

Two nest types. Some nests are made of grass and moss and placed on low shorelines; some are actually in shallow water, built up with aquatic vegetation.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:1-3 eggs
Egg Description:Elongated, with variable color ranging from brown to olive, with blotches or speckles.
Condition at Hatching:Downy and active; capable of swimming within 12 to 24 hours.
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Behavior Surface DiveIn one territorial display, nicknamed the "penguin posture," an individual or pair of Red-throated Loons extend their bodies and necks vertically, and bow their heads and bills downward, while they tread water with their feet. One threat display involves a dive with strong kicks that send up sprays of water.Pursues fish under water, grabs with bill.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernRed-throated Loon are found across North America, Europe, and some parts of the far east of Asia. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan rates the species a 15 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and lists it as a Species of high Concern. North American populations are on the 2014 State of the Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. Population declines have been noted in Europe, Alaska, and other parts of North America, but the reasons for decline are not well understood. Oil spills, degradation of habitat, and entanglement in fishing nets all pose threats to the Red-throated Loon. Back to top


Barr, Jack F., Christine Eberl and Judith W. McIntyre. 2000. Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA. 

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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