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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Pacific Loon: 13 Facts You Won’t Believe

Pacific loon facts are interesting.

We all love birds, don't we? The Pacific loon (Gavia Pacifica) is a species of bird that is commonly found in North America and was once considered to be subspecies of the Arctic loon. It belongs to the order Gaviiformes, family Gaviidae and genus Gavia. It has a straight bill and a flat rounded head and neck. The top of the head and back of the neck are pale grey or black. The body has black and white stripes. These birds usually take flight from water bodies because of the positioning of their feet. These migrating birds are also found in inland open water bodies like lakes and ponds. However, a large number of these species live on the eastern coast of the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Unlike other loon species, pacific loons spend the winter season far from the shore, on the Pacific coast or on any other open water body.

Pacific loons, because of their ability to eat fish, are considered pests on ponds or lakes with a lot of fish. When loons have chicks, they carry them on their backs to protect them and keep them safe.

If you like reading animal facts, do check out these shoebill facts and mockingbird facts.

Pacific Loon Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Pacific loon?

Pacific loon is a type of bird, belonging to the order Gaviiformes.

What class of animal does a Pacific loon belong to?

Pacific loons belong to the class Aves and the family Gaviidae.

How many Pacific loons are there in the world?

These birds have a thriving population of 840,000 adults currently, in the world.

Where does a Pacific loon live?

Pacific loons are commonly found in the open lakes of North America, especially on the western coast or pacific coast of the United States, during the winter season. However, during the mating season, these migratory birds travel to the lakes of Alaska, Siberia, and North Canada up to the Hudson Bay and Baffin Islands on the far east.

What is a Pacific loon's habitat?

Pacific loons range across the tundra and taiga region of North America during winter seasons. They inhabit the freshwater lakes, ponds, and other water bodies that are large enough to provide the birds ground for take-off and landing. During summers and springs, these North-American birds migrate across North Canada and spend three months in the coastal waters of their breeding grounds to mate. These birds prefer a peaceful environment and hence, they usually reside in secluded areas.

Who does a Pacific loon live with?

Pacific loons, like all species of loons, are solitary birds. They are seen together only when they are migrating in flocks or in their mating season.

How long does a Pacific loon live?

Like other loons, it is assumed that in the wild, they too have a long lifespan of around 30 years.

How do they reproduce?

These birds are monogamous in nature. They mate during summers and springs. Male and female Pacific loons try to woo each other with specific head movements and dives in water. After mating, both the male and female build the nest with mutual effort on the shore of a water body. The nest is built with mud and roots found on the nest site. The female lays 1-2 eggs in the nest and both the parents incubate them for 23-25 days. The eggs hatch and the chicks are able to leave the nest to swim after 2-3 days. During this time, the parents take care of the young ones by foraging for food from the ponds and other bodies of water nearby. They are quite aggressive during this time and try to protect their nest at any cost.

The young ones become independent after 50-55 days when they learn to fly.

What is their conservation status?

According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN Red List), the conservation status of Pacific loon is of Least Concern. The research says that the population trend of this species is constantly increasing.

Pacific Loon Fun Facts

What do Pacific loons look like?

Pacific loon facts are fun to read.

Pacific loons are gorgeous water birds, who have different plumages during the breeding and non-breeding season. During the breeding season, the smooth and round head of a pacific loon is light grey in color, with white vertical stripes on its throat. Its body has black plumage with crisp white spots all over. The eyes are bright red in color. On the other hand, the non-breeding loon has a subdued plumage in contrast to the breeding loon. It is dull black or dark brown in color with white underparts. There is a dark brown strap on the throat, which appears like a necklace. In both the seasons, it has a thick neck and a strong and sharp bill.

The most fascinating feature of this bird is their legs, which are situated at the back of their bodies. Due to the position of the legs, pacific loons are excellent swimmers, but have difficulties walking on the ground steadily.

How cute are they?

Pacific loons are immensely cute to look at, due to their color combination and body structure.

How do they communicate?

This loon species has a wide range of calls, especially during the breeding season. A loud yodel, eerie, or oo-loo-lee wail travels really far and is mostly heard during the breeding season. Apart from loud growls, cackles, clucking noises, or barks, they can also make a sharp ark-like noise.

How big is a Pacific loon?

Pacific loons are about 23–29 in (58–74 cm) long. They are about the same size of a chicken.

How fast can a Pacific loon move?

Pacific loons can fly at a speed of 37 mph and are fast swimmers, too. But cannot walk on land with great speed.

How much does a Pacific loon weigh?

This species of birds weigh about 2.2–5.5 lb (1–2.5 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Pacific loons do not have separate male and female names.

What would you call a baby Pacific loon?

Like most birds, the baby of a pacific loon can be called a chick.

What do they eat?

The food habit of these North-American birds depends on their habitat. During the winter, they prefer small fish, but during the summer in their breeding grounds, they feed on mollusks, crustaceans, aquatic insects. These birds look for their prey by swimming underwater with the help of their efficient air-sacs.

Are they poisonous?

No, these birds are not at all poisonous. However, they are extremely territorial during the breeding season and will attack if they find anyone near their range.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these are wild birds who thrive more in their natural habitat. Moreover, they prefer to be in a peaceful environment, away from human civilisation and therefore, they cannot be domesticated.

Did you know...

The Pacific loon is heavier than a red-throated loon, despite being similar in size. This makes Pacific loons less buoyant and helps them dive with ease and capture fish at greater depths.

The larger yellow-billed and common loons dive differently than the smaller Pacific and Arctic loons. This is because, the larger birds place their heads in the water and tip over, while the smaller species stretch their necks and take a slight plunge.

Until recently, the Pacific Loon and the Arctic Loon were thought to be the same species.

In the winter, the Pacific loon can be distinguished from the red-throated loon by the dull appearance of the latter. The red-throated loon also has a lack of contrast between the hindneck, crown, and throat, and even the bill seems to be upturned.

What does a Pacific loon sound like?

A Pacific loon call sounds very similar to a common loon. They have a range of calls that are loud and can be heard in the Arctic range at night.

Pacific loon vs common loon

Pacific loons have a black neck with vertical white stripes, in contrast to common loons, who have a checkered back along with stripes on the throat. Additionally, pacific loons have significantly smaller bills.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including Gouldian Finch facts and secretary bird facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Pacific Loon coloring pages.

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