Arctic Loon

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Common Name: Black-throated Diver or Arctic Loon
Scientific Name: Gavia arctica

Size: 23-30 inches (58-77 cm); Wingspan: 39-51 inches (100-130 cm)

Habitat: Northern Hemisphere; breeds in Eurasia and occasionally in western Alaska. It winters at sea, as well as on large lakes over a much wider range.

It breeds on deep, productive, freshwater lakes or extensive pools with islets, peninsulas and other inaccessible nesting sites. During non-breeding season it can be found on inshore waters along sheltered coasts, occasionally also frequenting large inland freshwater bodies such as natural lakes or barrages, lagoons and large rivers.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 280,000-1,500,000 adult individuals. The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends. During the breeding season the species is threatened by the acidification of breeding waters, heavy metal pollution and water level fluctuations especially during the incubation period. It also suffers from lower reproductive success due to human disturbance from tourists or wetland visitors and is indirectly affected by breeding habitat alteration such as afforestation. During the winter the species is highly vulnerable to coastal oil spills, especially in rich fishing grounds where large congregation may occur, and is commonly caught and drowned as by-catch in fishing nets. The species is also highly sensitive to disturbance from coastal wind farms (wind turbines) and is susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus

Protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Diet: Predominantly fish although aquatic insects, mollusks, crustaceans and some plant matter may also be taken.

Nesting: Sexes are alike. They have a grey head, black throat, white under parts and checkered black-and-white mantle. Non-breeding plumage is drabber with the chin and fore neck white. Its bill is dagger-shaped. In all plumages, a white flank patch distinguishes this species from all other divers including the otherwise almost identical Pacific diver. The calls include a yodeling high-pitched wail and harsh growls, similar but lower pitched than Pacific loon.

The nest is a heap of plant matter placed near the water's edge on islets or hummocks emerging from the water, sometimes also on clumps of grass on the shore

Cool Facts: The species is known as an Arctic loon in North America and the black-throated diver in Eurasia. Its current name is a compromise proposed by the International Ornithological Committee.

In 2007, RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) stated that it was surprised by an increase in the last 12 years in the breeding figures in the UK for the red-throated diver and the rarer black-throated diver of 16% and 34% respectively due to the anchoring of 58 man-made rafts in lochs as part of its conservation efforts.

Found in Songbird Remix Waterfowl Volume 4: Geese Loons, Grebe & Coots

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