Here are a few facts about the Common Loon, Gavia immer. Loons are excellent divers and can go down to 200 feet in search of small fish and aquatic invertebrates. The loon species as we see it today has been in existence for over 60 million years, far longer than mankind's 200,000 years. Minnesota has over 10,000 common loons, Maine about 4100. Loons can fly over 500 miles in a day at 70 mph. Loons can live over 25 years.

This is a collection of some of my favorite loon photographs, most of them taken on Damariscotta Lake, Maine. In an average year there will be over 50 loons on the lake including anywhere from 0 to 6 chicks. Donna and I have a small cabin on the lake, and enjoy watching the loons go through their life cycle which begins in early May each year with building a nest at water's edge. Parent loons take turns sitting on the eggs, typically a clutch of two. The hatch occurs by mid-June, with chicks in the water within minutes afterwards.
Loon on nest in mid-May
turning the egg

Common loons breed across much of Canada, the northern midwest and New England. The breeding season begins a month or so after lakes become unfrozen and continues through early summer. During the summer and early fall, loons are constantly diving and fishing for food, typically small fish and aquatic invertebrates. In late fall and early winter, as the lakes become frozen, loons migrate to coastal waters where they can continue fishing through the winter.

Common Loon range map

In the first few weeks after hatch, loon chicks will often ride on parents' backs as protection against predators such as snapping turtles, herring gulls or eagles.

loon family with chick
chick practicing foot waggle
feeding a crayfish to the chick
wing flap
wing flaps help shake off mites in the wing feathers
a chick practices a wing flap
Loons congregating on a foggy morning
on golden pond
on green pond
these chicks are about five weeks old
feeding time at the loon nursery
on blue ripple

Although most loons live on freshwater lakes during the summer, some stay in salt water. These five loons were in coastal waters off Vinalhaven, Maine.

in the Gulf of Maine
at sunset
loon and chick on a foggy morning at Damariscotta lake


© Keith Carver Photography

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.