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Pacific Loon - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 08:19, 17 August 2019 by Jmorlan (talk | contribs) (Spacing and dates.)
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Breeding plumage
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Half Moon Bay, California, USA, 5 May 2019

Alternative name: Pacific Diver

Gavia pacifica


Photo © by Sandpiper
Farnham, North Yorkshire, UK, 1 February 2007

51–64·5 cm (20-25½ in), Wingspan 118cm
Adult breeding: white-chequered black back and dove-grey head but paler nape area more extensive and throat patch has purple (not green) iridescence.
Adult non-breeding: dark-grey brown above clearly demarcated from white underparts (as in Arctic Loon/Black-throated Diver) but may lack conspicuous white flank patch seen on swimming birds.

Similar Species

Compared to the similar Arctic Loon/Black-throated Diver, Pacific Loon differs in its slightly smaller size, more rounded head, thinner bill, purple-glossed throat, narrower white stripes on neck sides, paler crown, and lack of a white flank patch.


Breeds in north-eastern Siberia and in northern North America from Alaska east to Hudson Bay. Winters off Japan and the Pacific coast of North America from Alaska to Baja California and commonly in the Gulf of California. May occur as a rare winter vagrant to the Atlantic coast but these birds may belong to Black-throated Diver.

Accidental vagrant in the eastern United States.


Photo © by Reader
Farnham, North Yorkshire, 3 February 2007

This is a monotypic species[1].


Breeds on medium-large lakes and winters at sea.



Breeds early-May to September (later in the north of their range).

It builds nests beside water often on an island or spit, a shallow scrape or sometimes a substantial mound of vegetation built in shallow water. It lays 2 eggs which are olive brown with black blotches. Both sexes incubate for approx 28 days.

The young feed themselves at 35 days and fly at 60 days.


Fish, also molluscs and crustaceans.


Wailing, croaking and cackling calls.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibirds
  3. del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/467260 on 17 August 2019).
  4. Russell, R. W. (2018). Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica), version 1.2. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.pacloo.01.2

Recommended Citation

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