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Posts Tagged ‘loon’

Gavia stellata: Red-throated Loon


The ponderously beautiful Red-throated Loon is the smallest member of the loon family.  It also has some capabilities that are unique to this loon.  While the larger loons can require up to a 100 meter running start to get air born the Red-throated loon requires much less and can actually lift off from land.  The mating pairs also engage in a unique duet of calls as opposed to a singular territorial yodel of its male cousins.  The Red-throated loon of the North American variety primarily breeds in coastal tundra habitat which puts it out of contact with most people so it is a relative unknown.  It is an incredibly beautiful loon and a pleasure to watch.  This female scooted back and forth across this pond enjoying the late evening Arctic sun and did not seem to mind me too much.  I made her a little nervous initially but she quickly got over it.  I am glad she did.

Arctic Loon


The Arctic Loon has a distinguishing “greenish” iridescent patch on its foreneck that most of the time looks black.  From this angle you can see the green.  The little chick is all fluffy brown down though at the moment.  After being born the chicks down can actually get water logged and they will jump up on Momma’s back for a ride while they dry out.  This little guy seemed pretty well on his way to adjusting to his future on the water.  He still cannot dive though, too buoyant.  When mom or dad dives under he sticks his head down and tries to give chase but just pops right back up like a little cork.



Everybody loves chicks.  Loon Chicks are a special treat, and Arctic Loon chicks are too cool.  I found this mom and chick squirting around a little pond of water and after some initial hesitation they relaxed and let me observe and photograph.  Arctic Loons are an absolutely beautiful bird and I did not realize that they actually can have a very dark green neck, only when the sun hits them just right does it appear anything other than black.  This little chick was having a pretty good time but it must have been fed earlier, the day before both mom and dad were working lunch duty, today the action was not so feverish.  The little chick had been swimming in between the two of them and just turning its head from one to the other to get whatever it was they were getting from the bottom.  Good times.