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Common Loon

Common Loon, Vancouver Island, BC

If you visit the lakes of Vancouver Island, the call of the Common Loon is a sound you will probably hear. The loon is a regular feature of our lakes and a truly iconic part of the land.

The male and female have similar characteristics, with the male being a wee bit larger. The adult bird has dark red eyes, a long and pointed black bill, a blackhead, and the neck has vertical white striping.

The common loon has a streamlined body, and its legs are located farther back on its trunk, allowing for optimal movement in the water but making it very clumsy on land. It’s an incredible diver, with Its powerful leg muscles that speed it through the water. Its bones are heavier than those of most birds.

Common Loon, Vancouver Island, BC
Common Loon, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Robert Logan

The loon spends its day hunting, feeding, resting, preening, and caring for its young. Perhaps the Loon’s most distinguishing feature is its songs, sitting at a lake’s shore at dusk and listening to these birds has to be one of my favorite things to do.

The common loon prefers to eat small fish up to 25 cm long, but will also eat crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic insects, leeches, and even frogs. They may also occasionally eat aquatic plants. They swallow small prey underwater and bring larger prey to the surface.

They can be found in every province and territory in the country, it winters on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America.

Common Loon, Vancouver Island, BC
Common Loon, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

The male and female both construct the nest very near the water, on the shore or preferably on a small island. The nest is a mound of grasses, small branches, and reeds, usually hidden by the surrounding vegetation. The nest is often used from year to year.  The female lays two eggs, and both parents incubate. The young leave the nest only a few days after hatching and can dive and swim underwater by 3 days of age. Both parents continue to feed and tend the young, which can sometimes be seen riding on the backs of the adults.

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