Common Loon

About the Common Loon
Also known as: Great Northern Diver
Common Loon

The Common Loon, or Great Northern Diver, is a large species of diving bird. These duck-like birds breed in Canada, parts of the northern United States, Greenland, Alaska, and Iceland. It winters on a wider range in Northern Europe and the British Isles, as well as coastal areas in North America.

Common Loons are specialist fishers and catch their prey underwater, diving as deep as 200 feet (60 meters). They make nests of dirt and vegetation, usually close to or on the water. Chicks are semi-precocial, able to leave the nest within a day of hatching. Young birds often brood on the back of a parent, which is super-cute. The Common Loon is the state bird of Minnesota.

The natural range of the Common Loon is quite large and as of September 2014 the conservation status for this species is Least Concern.

Find cute products & gifts with our Birdorable Common Loon

Details & Statistics


The Common Loon is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and was last assessed in 2012 by BirdLife International. This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

International Names

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Related Articles

T-Shirt Tuesday: Common Loon

This week's featured t-shirt design is our Birdorable Common Loon. Loons are currently migrating north and passing through northern Illinois, where we live. This time of year, local bird clubs organize "Looney trips" where birders drive from lake to lake to spot these beautiful birds. Have you...  Read more »

Baby Birdorable: Common Loon

If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Here are some baby photos (shared via Flickr) of the Common Loon. Baby Common Loons are precocial, which means they are more mature and mobile than other new hatchlings. Loon chicks...  Read more »