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Aquatic Birds

 

Loons

Common Loons, Gavia immer.
Common Loons,
Gavia immer.

Class: Birds
Order: Loons
Family: Loons

Species found along the Rideau River:
Common Loon

Characteristics of the family:
Loons are large birds, and are excellent swimmers and divers. The bill is sharp and pointed, unlike that of ducks and geese. When loons fly, the feet extend beyond the body and the neck is slanted downwards.

Interesting facts:
Loons are one of the oldest bird families; some loon fossils date back to the time dinosaurs became extinct, about 65 million years ago!


Representative species: Common Loon
Description The appearance of males and females is similar. The head and neck are black with a greenish gloss. They have an incomplete white collar (it almost circles the throat) and black bill. The back is chequered black and white and the belly is white.
Size 70 cm to 90 cm from the tip of the bill to the tip of the tail.
Distribution Breeds throughout Canada and the northern United States. Migrates and winters along the east and west coasts of North America.
Habitat Freshwater lakes in summer, and coastal zones in winter.
Food Fish, crustaceans.
Life cycle In the spring, a female loon will usually lay 2 eggs. The large nests are built with clumps of aquatic vegetation and roots. Either the female or the male incubates the eggs for 29 days.

 

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 Aquatic Birds
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A Project of the Canadian Museum of Nature
 Images: John A. Crosby