Common Loon – Minnesota State bird

Common Loon

Common Loon

Common Loon (Gavia immer)

Description: Known for its black-and-white with red eyes and a distinct yodel, the Common Loon is a powerful swimmer and diver, even moments after hatching.


Year Designated: 1961


Key Facts

Life Span30 Years
FlightFlying Bird

Conservation Status

Lease Concern




Weight2500-6100 g
Wing Span104-131 cm
Length66-91 cm

Taxonomic Serial Number                   174469

Compared to the Average State Bird

How the Common Loon measures up:

  • Wing span95 cm and 264% larger than the average state bird’s wingspan, (36 cm).
  • Weight6,015 g7,077%, and 72 times heavier than the average state bird’s weight (85 g)
  • Length64 cm237%, and 3.4 times longer than the average state bird’s length (27 cm)

Scientific Classification

AnimaliaChordataAvesGaviiformesGaviidaeGavia immer


Appearance Description

AppearanceCommon loons have a black head, red eyes, white breast, and black-and-white checkered back. Their beaks are incredibly sharp, and their tails are so short they are generally hidden underneath the wings.



DietFish and invertebrates.
Communication StylesEerie, beautiful calls. Yodels, wails, and tremolos to announce its presence.
Migratory BehaviorMedium-distant migrant. Spends summer in freshwater lakes in northern United States and Canada and spends winter along Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

Range of Habitation



Freshwater lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastlines.


gulls, ravens, crows, some fish such as pikes, racoons, weasels and skunks.

Mating and Breeding

Breeding Overview

Breeding BehaviorMonogamous, but may pair with a new mate each year.
Breeding SeasonSpring
NestingNests on the ground. Builds mound out of dead plant materials that grows along the lake’s edge.


Common Loon Eggs
ColorOlive green with brown speckles.
Clutch Size1 to 3 egg(s)
Egg Laying MonthsApril to July

Chick description

Black downy feathers, able to swim and dive shortly after hatching.


Birding Facts

Interesting FactLoons can dive more than 61 m below the surface of the water in search of food.
Best Season to ObserveAutumnSpring
Observation TipsBest seen during migration. On a North Woods lake in summer, Common Loons are very vocal and easy to locate. During winter, they are quieter and stay close to coastal shores.
Other NamesGreat Northern Loon, Great Northern Diver


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