Gavia Immer – Common Loon

Gavia Immer - Common Loon in the US

The common loon or commonly known as Gavia immer, is a big loon or diver family member in Gaviidae. Blackish to blackish-grey upperparts, with pure white underparts, save for some black on the under tail coverts and vent.

The common loon is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. It is one of the species included under the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement. The US Forest Service has labeled the common loon a threatened species due to habitat degradation and metal poisoning in its range.

Quick Overview: Gavia Immer – Common Loon
Body size: Around 28-36 in (71-91 cm) and a weight of 4126 g (145.6 oz)
Main colors: Black, Gray, White
Range: Northern United States
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: January, February, December
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Common Loon Description

There are two types of bills: black in the mating season and gray the rest of the year. Black, white, and gray plumage of loons It has a black head with a white and black banded necklace, and a checkered pattern on its back during the breeding season. During the winter, their heads and backs are gray with a white neck and underbelly. The common loon’s breeding plumage pattern and black beak set it apart from other loons. The depression of the white neck color at mid-neck distinguishes common loons in the winter. Except for yellow-billed loons, common loons are bigger.

Gavia Immer - Common Loon in the US
Gavia Immer – Common Loon. Photo by: James St. John


These birds have a length of 28-36 in (71-91 cm) and a weight of 4126 g (145.6 oz). Their wings could range from 50-58 in (127-147 cm).


Loons consume fish, crayfish, shrimp, leeches, and certain aquatic plants. Minnows are an excellent size for immature fish that consume insects.


In search of fish, loons dive deep into the ocean. They seek in 2–4 meter deep water. To see, common loons need clean water. Adult loons eat most of their prey underwater. They devour bigger stuff first.


Loons breed on lakes and ponds. Because loons cannot nest on frozen water, weather constraints apply. In shallow water, they prefer to nest on islands and islets. This is a migratory bird.

Gavia Immer Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Gaviformes
  • Family: Gaviidae
  • Genus: Gavia
  • Species: Gavia immer

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the winter season (December to February).

Distribution of the Common Loon in the USA

Canadian and northern United States populations of this species are the most numerous. Common loons spawn in lakes and other bodies of water from western Greenland west to Canada and into the northernmost United States, including Alaska, where they spend most of their time. It is possible to see them in winter along both coastlines of North America, all the way down to Baja California, and Texas.

The Common loon can be found in the following states in the United States – Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Gavia Immer – Common Loon

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