Common loon

Gavia immer Minnesota’s state bird, the common loon, is more at home in the water than on land. Built like a torpedo, it swims under water in search of prey. Minnesota has more common loons than any other state except Alaska.


General description: Larger than a mallard but smaller than a goose, this water bird has a thick neck and a long, black bill. Its legs areset far back on its body, so it has an awkward gait on land. The male is slightly larger than the female, but otherwise the two sexes look identical.

Weight: Adult loons weigh 8 to 12 pounds.

Color: The common loon has a black bill and a red eye. In summer it is a spotty black and white with a black/iridescent green head. In fall a “winter coat” that’s gray above and white below replaces its summer plumage.

Sounds: The common loon has four calls. The tremolo, which sounds a bit like maniacal laughter, is an aggressive call. The wail is a long, drawn-out sound. The hoot, a shorter call, is used to communicate among parents and young. The yodel is sounded by male loons guarding their territory.  To learn more about loons in MN, please clink on the following link.