Red-throated LoonGavia stellata
- ORDER: Gaviiformes
- FAMILY: Gaviidae
Red-throated Loons are among the finest fish hunters in North America, and perhaps the most graceful of all loons. They are smaller and more slender than other loons, with a smaller bill that they characteristically hold tipped slightly upward. In summer, they are a soft gray with neat stripes and a russet patch on the neck. Like other loons they dive for fish from the surface, but may also hunt from the air. They fly swiftly and are able to stall, pivot, and drop with almost falconlike precision.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Red-throated Loons along ocean shores and large estuaries from late autumn through early spring. They also stop on large inland lakes during migration, particularly in autumn. They can form very large flocks during migration along coasts. In winter and on migration they may mix with other loon species, so look for their slender shape and bill-up posture. On the breeding grounds, Red-throated Loons nest in ponds, sometimes very small ones.
- Colimbo Chico (Spanish)
- Plongeon catmarin (French)
- Cool Facts
- The slight Red-throated Loon, unlike other loons, does not need to patter on the water’s surface on a long takeoff. It can take flight directly from land if necessary.
- Birds’ digestive tracts have many different ways of handling the difficult-to-digest parts of prey. Owls regurgitate pellets of fur and bones, but loons grind up their food in two digestive organs called the proventriculus and gizzard. The proventriculus starts digesting proteins, and then the gizzard grinds up the hard parts using pea-sized pebbles the loons have swallowed.
- The Red-throated Loon is the only loon that regularly forages far from its breeding territory, returning from distant lakes or the sea with fish for the young.
- Unlike other loons, the Red-throated Loon does not carry its young on its back.