Sheeree Levitt

Written by Sheeree Levitt

Modified & Updated: 30 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


The loon, also known as the great northern diver, is a fascinating and enigmatic bird that captivates people with its haunting calls and graceful movements on water. Found in North America and Europe, these waterbirds are renowned for their distinct appearance and unique behaviors. In this article, we will delve into 13 intriguing facts about loons, shedding light on their ecology, behavior, and conservation. Whether you’re a bird enthusiast or simply curious about the wonders of the animal kingdom, join us as we explore the world of the loon. Get ready to be amazed by these magnificent creatures and learn more about their remarkable characteristics and adaptations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Loons are exceptional divers, staying submerged for up to 5 minutes and diving as deep as 200 feet. Their unique feet and body structure make them efficient swimmers both above and beneath the water’s surface.
  • These majestic birds are known for their haunting calls, striking plumage, and unique courtship displays. They are also indicators of environmental health, migrating in family units and living up to 30 years in the wild.
Table of Contents

The Loon’s Haunting Call

One of the most distinctive features of loons is their haunting call, which can be heard echoing across lakes and rivers.

Excellent Divers

Loons are exceptional divers, with the ability to stay submerged for up to five minutes and dive as deep as 200 feet.

Territorial Birds

Loons are known for being highly territorial. They fiercely defend their nesting sites and surrounding areas from other loons.

Migratory Birds

Loons are migratory birds, typically spending their breeding season in northern regions and migrating south to coastal areas during winter.

Feathered Feet

Loons have unique feet adapted for swimming. Their feet are webbed, with lobes extending beyond their toes, making them efficient swimmers.

Adaptable Swimmers

Loons have a body structure that allows them to swim both above and beneath the water’s surface with ease.

Prime Fishermen

Loons primarily feed on fish, using their sharp beaks to catch and swallow their prey whole.

Striking Plumage

Adult loons have striking plumage, with black heads and necks, a checkered black-and-white pattern on their back, and white undersides.

Migrating in Family Units

Loons often migrate in family units, with parents leading their young to wintering grounds and teaching them survival skills along the way.

Nesting on the Water

Loons build their nests right on the water, creating floating platforms made of vegetation to protect their eggs.

Unique Courtship Displays

During courtship, loons engage in intricate displays, including head shaking, wing flapping, and yodeling to attract a mate.

Longevity in the Wild

Loons have been known to live up to 30 years in the wild, thanks to their strong adaptation skills and natural instincts.

Environmental Indicators

Due to their sensitivity to environmental changes, loons are often considered indicators of the overall health of the ecosystems they inhabit.

So there you have it, 13 fascinating facts about loons. These majestic birds are not only known for their haunting calls and impressive diving abilities but also for their territorial nature and unique courtship rituals. Whether you spot them on a serene lake or during their migration across vast distances, loons never fail to captivate with their beauty and grace. Keep an eye out for these incredible creatures and cherish the wonders of the natural world.


In conclusion, loons are fascinating birds that inhabit the northern regions of North America and parts of Europe and Asia. They are known for their haunting calls, beautiful plumage, and excellent diving abilities. With their unique behaviors and adaptations, loons have captured the attention of bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.From their distinctive red eyes to their streamlined bodies and webbed feet, loons are perfectly designed for life in the water. They can dive to impressive depths in search of fish, using their powerful legs to propel themselves underwater. Their haunting calls echo across the lakes, serving as a marker of their presence and territory.Loons have a complex breeding and nesting process, with pairs forming strong bonds and working together to raise their young. Their nests are built near the water’s edge and carefully concealed, providing protection from predators. The hatching and fledging of loon chicks is an incredible sight to behold.Overall, loons are an iconic species that symbolize the beauty and majesty of the wild. As their populations face threats from habitat loss and pollution, it is important to appreciate and protect these incredible birds.


1. How long can loons stay underwater?

Loons can stay underwater for up to 5 minutes, thanks to their exceptional diving abilities and specialized adaptations.

2. What do loons eat?

Loons primarily feed on fish, with their diet consisting mainly of small to medium-sized fish species.

3. How do loons communicate?

Loons communicate through a range of vocalizations, including their haunting wails and yodels, which are used for territorial defense and locating other loons.

4. Do loons migrate?

Yes, most loon populations migrate to warmer areas during the winter months. They travel long distances to find suitable wintering grounds.

5. Are loons endangered?

While not all loon populations are endangered, some species, such as the yellow-billed loon, are considered vulnerable due to habitat loss and human disturbance.

6. Can loons fly?

Yes, loons are excellent fliers. They have strong wings and can fly long distances when migrating or searching for new territories.

From the haunting calls of loons to their incredible diving abilities, these birds never cease to amaze. But why stop there? Explore more captivating topics like the rise of Minnesota United FC, a football club making waves in the sports world. Or perhaps you're curious about Keith Moon, the legendary drummer whose life was as fascinating as his music. Each subject offers a unique glimpse into a different world, waiting to be discovered by curious minds like yours. So go ahead, pick your next adventure and let your curiosity lead the way!

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