Family Loons/Divers (Gaviidae)

Near Threatened

Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii)


French: Plongeon à bec blanc German: Gelbschnabeltaucher Spanish: Colimbo de Adams
Other common names: White-billed Diver

Colymbus adamsii

G. R. Gray

, 1859,



Closely related to G. immer. Probable hybridization with latter reported#R. Monotypic.


Holarctic, breeding mainly along coasts of Arctic Ocean as far N as c. 78° N; winters in coastal waters of NW & NE Pacific and also off NW Norway.

Descriptive notes

76–91 cm; 4050–6400 g; wingspan 137–152 cm. Largest diver, often with pronounced bulge on forecrown and notably thick-based neck; large bill often appears... read more


During breeding seaons, male emits loud yodelling, wailing series of “aaa” and “ooo” notes, also... read more


Breeds mostly on freshwater pools or lakes of tundra, less frequently on low-lying Arctic coast,... read more

Food and feeding

Little known. Mostly fish, including sculpin (Cottidae), tomcod (Microgadus proximus) and cod (Gadus morhua); also... read more


Begins mostly in early Jun, but timing largely dependent on spring thaw. Solitary. Nest a heap of plant matter or turf built near water... read more


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

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Very little known of numbers. According to US Fish & Wildlife Service, global population thought to be in... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii). 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 30 March 2020).