Family Loons/Divers (Gaviidae)

Least Concern

Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata)


French: Plongeon catmarin German: Sterntaucher Spanish: Colimbo chico
Other common names: Red-throated Diver

Colymbus Stellatus


, 1763,

Tame River, Warwickshire, England


Birds breeding in Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land sometimes separated as race squamata on basis of greyish edges of mantle feathers, but this character is variable within the species as a whole#R. Monotypic.


Holarctic, breeding generally N of 50° N and far into high Arctic; winters mainly along N coasts of Atlantic and Pacific, also on Great Lakes, and Black, Caspian and Mediterranean Seas.

Descriptive notes

53–69 cm; 988–2460 g; wingspan 106–116 cm. Smallest, slightest diver, with comparatively uniform upperparts during breeding; bill slender, appears uptilted... read more


During breeding, male emits protracted mournful “aarooooah”, female a somewhat higher-... read more


Breeds mostly on fresh water, typically in fairly open moorland, e.g. blanket bog; may occupy... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly fish, including cod (Gadus morhua), herring (Clupea harengus), sprat (Sprattus sprattus), sculpins (... read more


Starts May in S of range, dependent on spring thaw in N. Solitary or loosely colonial. Nest a heap of plant matter placed near water’... read more


Migratory and dispersive. Generally moves S and towards sea after breeding, shunning ice-covered... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Still numerous, though perhaps decreasing in some parts of range. Probably c. 50,000–100,000 pairs in Nearctic and similar... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata). 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 23 April 2019).