Family Loons/Divers (Gaviidae)

Least Concern

Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica)


French: Plongeon du Pacifique German: Pazifiktaucher Spanish: Colimbo del Pacífico
Other common names: Pacific Diver

Colymbus pacificus


, 1858,

San Diego, California


Often lumped with G. arctica, but now proven to breed sympatrically (hence no scoring); differs in slightly smaller size, more rounded head, thinner bill, purple-glossed throat patch, narrower white stripes on neck sides, and paler crown (all in summer), and is darker above with narrow “choker” in winter, and (usually) no white flank patch in all seasons#R. Mixed pairings (and possible hybrids) with G. immer reported#R. Monotypic.


Extreme N & NW Nearctic and NE Siberia (E from R Kolyma)#R; winters on Pacific coast of N America S to NW Mexico and in coastal NE Asia down to S Japan.

Descriptive notes

51–64·5 cm. Similar to Arctic Loon (G. arctica) but slightly smaller with a more rounded head, thinner bill, purple-glossed throat patch, narrower white... read more


Very vocal when breeding. Calls include gull-like growls and croaks as well as a plaintive, shrill... read more


Breeds on fairly large, deep freshwater lakes, preferably with islets; more typically in taiga and... read more

Food and feeding

A pursuit-diver and visual feeder. Breeding birds may forage within the nest pond itself, nearby freshwater ponds, rivers, and inshore... read more


Starts in March in S of range, dependent on spring thaw in N. Solitary. Nest a heap of plant matter placed near water’s edge. Clutch 1–3... read more


Migratory and dispersive. Wintering range is in coastal waters south to Baja California (from where... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Global population thought to number c. 930,000–1,600,000 individuals, with estimated totals of c. 50–10,000 wintering individuals in... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2018). Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica). 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 17 October 2018).