Tuesday, April 17, 2012
The Loons are back - and interesting facts!
Loons, like ducks, geese, cormorants and grebes, are waterbirds, but they are classified separately by scientists. Their closest living relatives are penguins and a group of birds called the “tube-nosed swimmers” (including albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters).
North America is home to five species of loons, including the Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata), Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica), Arctic Loon (Gavia arctica), Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii) and Common Loon (Gavia immer). The Common Loon is the most widespread and well-known species, and the only one that breeds as far south as New Hampshire.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about loons is their haunting and variable voice. Loons are most vocal from mid-May to mid-June. They have four distinct calls which they use to communicate with their families and other loons; these are the tremolo, wail, yodel and hoot.
Until recently, loons were thought to mate for life. However, banding loons to allow the identification of individuals has shown that loons will sometimes switch mates after a failed nesting attempt, sometimes even in the same breeding season. Courtship and mating are a quiet time, with the pair swimming and making short dives together. Eventually, the male leads the female to a suitable spot on land to mate. Nest building then begins.
Read more about Loons here: Loon.org