HALIFAX RIVER AUDUBON
A Florida Chapter of the National Audubon Society
Serving greater Daytona Beach area
Founded 1923

 

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July 1, 2015:  The Common Loon, Gavia immer, is a relatively common sight in open water during the winter months in central Florida.  At approximately 9 pounds, with a 46-inch wingspan and a thick neck and bill, it is an easily recognized silhouette.  The adult non-breeding plumage is dark grayish head and back with white chin and neck. 

The same bird looks very different in northern Wisconsin in the summer when HRA member, Sue Dodge Donnino, captured the photo of this striking adult with recently hatched babies.  Sue was kayaking on Muskie Lake in Vilas County when she saw this family and paddled upwind and then just floated back beside them.  Neither the adult or chicks seemed at all "nervous" about Sue being there. 

The Common Loon is often considered a symbol of wilderness.  Its yodeling and moaning calls, heard both day and night, are characteristic sounds in the north woods.  Common Loons select large lakes with a good supply of fish and ample space for take-off.  Their diet consists mostly of small fish and crustaceans.  They forage by diving underwater and propelling themselves with their large feet.  Small fish are swallowed underwater; larger fish are brought to the surface and eaten there.

It is believed that Common Loons first breed at age two years.  They claim their territory by flying in circles over their selected property while loudly calling and yodeling.  In courtship, the couple dip their bills into the water several times, rear up to a vertical posture with slightly open wings and race side-by-side on the water.  Both male and female build the nest on an island or near the shore in hidden vegetation.  The female lays 2 eggs and both sexes incubate for 24-31 days.  The hatchlings leave the nest within a day or two and can dive and swim at day 2 to 3.  As noted in the photo, the young often ride on the back of the adult.  Juveniles are capable of flight at about 10-11 weeks of age.   

Information was gathered from Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman.

 
Share the beach w/nesting birds; tips from Nat'l Aud. How to remove fishing line from a hooked bird
For deeply embedded or swallowed hooks, or injuries to wings and legs call:
Marine Science Center(386) 304-5530, After Hours 386-561-0624

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