Family Loons/Divers (Gaviidae)

Least Concern

Common Loon (Gavia immer)


French: Plongeon huard German: Eistaucher Spanish: Colimbo grande
Other common names: Great Northern Diver, Great Northern Loon

Colymbus Immer


, 1764,



Closely related to G. adamsii. Probable hybridization with latter reported, and mixed pairings (and possible hybrids) with G. arctica and G. pacifica occasionally observed#R. Monotypic.


Mainly Nearctic, breeding from 48° N to Arctic Circle (locally S to c. 40° N, and N to c. 78° N); in N Atlantic breeds in Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, occasionally on Jan Mayen and Bear I#R, and very rarely in Scotland. Winters mainly along coasts of N Atlantic and NE Pacific, also stopping off at Great Lakes.

Descriptive notes

69–91 cm; 2780–4480 g; wingspan 122–148 cm. Large, with heavy, straightish bill usually held horizontal. Adult breeding plumage Group of three adults,... read more


During breeding, male song distinctive, a loud, wailing “aaoo, weee-wea weee-wea weee-wea... read more


Breeds mostly on rather large, deep freshwater lakes, in areas of coniferous forest or on open... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly fish (c. 55–80% of diet), including cod (Gadus morhua), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), herring (... read more


Starts in May in S of range, dependent on spring thaw in N. Solitary. Nest a heap of plant matter placed near water’s edge. Clutch 1... read more


Some present year-round in Iceland; otherwise migratory. Generally moves S and towards sea after... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common. Global population of the order of a few hundred thousand birds, or c. 215,000 pairs, but decreased steadily over much... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Common Loon (Gavia immer). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 February 2020).