Common Loon     Gavia immer

Sporting it's spring finery of bold black and white patterns, the Common Loon, a large diving bird with a body length of around 32 inches, prepares for the breeding season.   Wintering individuals occur from Puget Sound to as far south as central Mexico and are dressed in duller plumage. They also occur in northern europe where they are called the Great Northern Diver.

The Common Loon is a major predator of various species of fish. They hunt from the water surface submerging their eyes to scout for prey, then slipping beneath the surface in pursuit.  Large, webbed feet set well back on the body make them fast swimmers.  However this arrangement gives them poor walking ability on land.

They breed in undisturbed, northern fresh water lakes of the United States and Canada which are large enough to allow for the long run over the water surface necessary to gain sufficient speed for flight.  They build nests of mounded wet vegetation next to the shoreline on small islands or open areas. Two eggs are common with hatching in around 30 days. The young ride on the parent's back for the first week and are fed small aquatic invertebrates and fish.

Loons are an ancient bird group having fossils dating back 70 million years. Some scientists who study the origin of birds feel there is sufficient evidence to say birds not only evolved from certain dinosaur lines, but they could be considered living dinosaurs.