Red-throated Loon

Red-throated Loon

Gavia stellata

Least Concern

Known for its distinctive red throat during the breeding season, the Red-throated Loon is a captivating sight in the Arctic skies. A master diver and long-distance migrant, this bird frequents the coastal waters in winter, offering a melodious call that echoes across the water. Its solitary behavior and elegant flight make it a fascinating subject for bird watchers across the globe.

Appearance and Identification

Time of year: Spring to early summer

Males and females have similar plumage

Primary Color


Primary Color (seasonal)


Secondary Colors

White, Grey

Secondary Colors (female)

Secondary Colors (juvenile)

Secondary Colors (seasonal)

White, Red

Wing Color


Wing Color (seasonal)


Beak Type


Beak Color

Dark Grey

Beak Color (seasonal)

Dark Grey

Leg Color


Leg Color (seasonal)


Distinctive Markings

Red throat during breeding season

Distinctive Markings (seasonal)

Red throat patch

Tail Description

Short and pointed

Tail Description (seasonal)

Short and pointed

Size Metrics

53cm to 69cm


91cm to 120cm


1000g to 2.7kg



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Vocalization and Sounds

Primary Calls

Series of mournful yodels and wails

Call Description

Varied, often melodious calls, particularly during breeding season

Alarm Calls

Sharp, short chirps

Behavior and Social Structure

Daily Activities

Active predominantly during the day, foraging and tending to young

Social Habits

Solitary, pairs during breeding season

Territorial Behavior

Defends nesting sites

Migratory Patterns

Annual migration between breeding and wintering areas

Interaction with Other Species

Generally solitary, but may form loose flocks during migration


Primary Diet

Fish, Crustaceans, Insects

Feeding Habits

Dives underwater to catch prey

Feeding Times

Primarily at dawn and dusk

Prey Capture Method

Underwater pursuit

Diet Variations

Varies with location and season

Special Dietary Needs (if any)

None known


Nesting Location

Near freshwater lakes, usually on small islands or floating vegetation

Nest Construction

Simple scrape, sometimes lined with vegetation

Breeding Season

Late spring to early summer

Number of clutches (per breeding season)


Egg Appearance

Variable, but often olive-brown with dark spots

Egg Size

Approximately 7cm x 5cm

Clutch Characteristics

1-2 eggs

Incubation Period

Around 24-29 days

Fledgling Period

Approximately 6-7 weeks

Parental Care

Both parents incubate and care for chicks

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

Breeds in Arctic regions, winters in coastal waters

Habitat Description

Lakes, coastal waters, tundra

Elevation Range

Sea level to 500m

Migration Patterns

Annual migration between breeding and wintering areas


Marine, Freshwater

Climate zones

Polar, Temperate

Distribution Map

Please note, this range and distribution map is a high-level overview, and doesn't break down into specific regions and areas of the countries.

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