Common Loon

The common loon is a large, long, diving bird seen most often on big lakes, where it rides low in the water. In summer, the adult’s black head, body, and bill contrast with a bright white chest and black-and-white-checkered back. In winter, common loons are drab gray above and white below.

Listen For

The haunting high yodel of the common loon echoes across wooded lakes in the North. It also gives a laughing ha-ha-ha-ha call.

Remember

You may confuse a distant common loon on the water with a double-crested cormorant. The loon has a heavier overall appearance; a thicker, shorter neck; and a heavier, dark bill.

Find it

Summer finds common loons on large, quiet bodies of water. They winter on waters along both coasts and fly in small flocks low over the water. During migration, loons may be found on large rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.

Wow!

Hollywood movie directors often dub the call of the common loon into their movies. Too often, however, they insert it in the wrong setting, such as in the desert or in a junkyard in New York City!

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