Great Northern Diver
The loon or diver is a type of aquatic bird found in many parts of North America and northern Europe. A loon is the size of a large duck, to which it is unrelated; its plumage is largely grey or black, and it has a spear-shaped bill. The loons compose a genus, family, and order all their own.
These were previously considered the most ancient of the northern hemisphere bird families, but it has recently become clear that the Anseriformes (ducks, geese and swans) and the Galliformes (the pheasants and their allies) are older groups.
The European name diver comes from the bird's habit of catching fish by swimming calmly along the surface and then abruptly plunging into the water; the North American name loon comes from the bird's haunting, yodeling cry, a symbol of the Canadian wilds.
Loons swim well, and fly adequately, but are almost hopeless on land, and have difficulty taking off, becoming airborne only after skimming the surface of the water for a couple of hundred meters.
Loons breed on inland freshwater lakes and ponds, but move to the coasts in winter, and often move much further south.
There are five species of loon:
- Order Gaviiformes