Adults can range from 61 to 100 cm (24 to 39 in) in length with a 122 to 152 cm (48 to 60 in) wingspan, slightly smaller than the similar Yellow-billed Loon (or White-billed Diver). The weight can vary from 1.6 to 8 kg. On average, a Great Northern Loon is about 81 cm (32 in) long, with a wingspan of 136 cm (54 in), and has 4.1 kg body mass. Breeding adults have a black head, white underparts, and a checkered black-and-white mantle. Non-breeding plumage is brownish, with the chin and foreneck white. The bill is black-blue and held horizontally.
Habitat and Distribution
The Great Northern Loon breeds in North America, Greenland, Iceland, and Great Britain. This species winters on sea coasts or on large lakes of south Europe and the United States, and south to northwestern areas of Africa.
This species, like all divers, is a specialist fish-eater, catching its prey underwater, diving as deep as 60 m. Freshwater diets consist of pike, perch, sunfish, and bass; salt water diet is herring, flounder etc.
Great Northern Loon nests are usually placed on islands, where ground-based predators cannot normally access them. The female lays 1 to 3 eggs on a hollowed-out mound of dirt and vegetation. Both parents build the nest, sit on the egg or eggs, and feed the young.
Calls and Songs
The bird ‘s call has been described as haunting, beautiful, thrilling, mystical, and enchanting.