Red-Throated Loon

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Smooth Body

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Birds In Flight

Size: 18" long, by 6-1/2" high, by 7" wide.

Price: $132.99 US


The smallest of the loons, the Red-throated Loon breeds at high latitudes in North America and Eurasia. It is distinctive among loons not only in size, but also in behavior, vocalizations, locomotion, and other aspects of life history.

* Large waterbird, small loon.
* Thin bill, usually tilted slightly upward.
* Long body slopes to rear.
* Sits low on water.
* Relatively slim proportions overall.
* Dives under water.
* Dark gray with a red throat in summer.
* Pale gray and white in winter.

* Size: 53-69 cm (21-27 in)
* Wingspan: 100-120 cm (39-47 in)
* Weight: 1000-2700 g (35.3-95.31 ounces)


Red-throated loons summer in the tundra and along arctic coastlines. Winters are spent in the Great Lakes region and along the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The birds are also found in the Caspian, Black, and Mediterranean Seas.


The red-throated loon is seldom seen far from saltwater. It can be found in estuary (combination of salt water and fresh water) waters at the mouths of rivers. Breeding takes place in freshwater lakes and ponds.


These birds eat medium-sized fish, preferring marine (salt water) fish to freshwater food.

Breeding & Behavior:

This is the only loon that can take off for flight from land because it doesn't require a running start from water. It is also the only loon species to vocalize in pairs, as mated couples do on breeding ponds. The call is a long, low-pitched whistle with individual notes interspersed, and both mates call at the same time.

Although the male chooses the nest site, both parents build the nest from plant matter. Nests are made close to the water's edge because loons have difficulty walking on land. Mating, however, takes place on land. Breeding occurs May through September, and incubation lasts twenty-four to twenty-seven days. Two eggs are usually laid and incubation begins immediately. This means that the first egg is larger, so the first chick is usually the healthier of the two. When food is scarce, the second-born chicks often starve to death.

Red-throated chicks are ready to breed between two and three years of age, and they have been known to live twenty-three years in the wild.

Conservation Status:

Though not threatened, these loons are vulnerable to oil spills and heavy metal pollution. The red-throated loon population is declining, though specific reasons are not known.

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