On a recent trip to Sawyer County in Northern Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to photograph Common Loons. This graceful bird has an enchanting call that has inspired numerous Native American tales and even a novel. The Common Loon has been featured on Canadian currency and is also the state bird of Minnesota.
I have also included some images taken last summer at the same location.
Binomial name: Gavia immer
Description: Black head with black and white checkered body in summer for breeding season; brown and white body in the winter. Blackish-blue bill that is held horizontally and black feet.
Size: 24″-40″ long, 4′ – 5′ wingspan
Weight: 4 lbs. – 8 lbs.
Habitat: Large lakes and shorelines
Diet: Fish (perch, trout, sunfish, bass)
Nesting: Usually nests on small islands or other locations safe from land-based predators. The nest may be made out of thin sticks, dried grasses, or a depression in mud or sand. Typically 1 to 3 eggs will be laid at one time and will be incubated by both parents. The parents aggressively protect their nests and share the responsibility of feeding the young. Baby loons may be seen riding on the back of either parent in the water.
Notes: The Common Loon has legs positioned in the rear of its body. This makes for excellent diving and graceful swimming; however, it also makes for awkward landings and clumsy walking. In fact, Loons require a “runway” spanning 30 yards or 1/4 mile for take-off and landing AND it can only be done in water. Loons have actually been stranded in small ponds, icy lakes, or even a parking lot without a suitable runway and must be rescued.
To see the full gallery of images, please click here.