Gavia – Loons (divers)

These great swimmers are anything but loony!

Gaviiformes order includes a single family of aquatic, foot-propelled, diving birds called loons. Five species of these medium to large-sized loons are found mainly in the northern hemisphere.

Their dense plumage helps insulate them from the intense cold of the arctic waters and the tundra weather. They have two plumages – a drab grey-brown one and an alternate breeding plumage that is boldly patterned in black, white, and grey, complete with a striking red iris!

Their foot placement is at the far back of their bodies, making it difficult for them to walk on land. They are excellent underwater swimmers, going as deep as 75 meters (250 ft) and staying there for several minutes! They mainly feed on fish.