Loon (Common)

The Common Loon can make underwater dives up to 200 feet searching out fish. The Loon is very awkward on land and cannot take flight while on land. It can consistently be seen diving and foraging for small fish and insects in shallow waters directly off of the coastline. The loon has a black head, white underparts, and a checkered black-and-white mantle when breeding. When it is not breeding, its plumage becomes brownish, while its chin and foreneck remain white. It can be seen on both coasts of Vancouver Island mostly during winter months. The Loon is well known since being on Canada’s one dollar coin called the “Loonie”. It is also Minnesota’s state bird.

Loon (Pacific)

The Pacific Loon is only “Pacific” during the winters as it breeds all across northern Canada. The Pacific Loon is the most social of the Loons and is more likely to be found in flocks. The greatest concentration of Loons is in the Strait of Georgia and during the Pacific herring spawn you will have a good chance to them either grouped or mixed in with many other birds.

Loon (Red-throated)

The Red-throated Loon is the smallest of the Loon family and it has a much wider breeding range than the other loons. It is also a winter Vancouver Island bird and a couple centuries ago it was thought to be predictor of incoming storms. The Red-throated Loon takes flight from water more easily than other loons and unlike the other loons and take flight from land. Its diet is mostly small fish and crustaceans.

Loon (Yellow-billed)

The yellow-billed loon is the largest member of the loon family. Another winter mainstay as they migrate down from the Arctic tundra to make Vancouver Island their winter home, this species is well known for diving underwater to catch fish. The typical adult male can be described as having a black head, white underparts and checkered black-and-white mantle to go along with its yellow-bill. The word loon in the Dutch means “lame” or “clumsy”, which is quite amusing really, as it also describes the wobbliness that all loons have while trying to move on land. If you ever get the chance to watch them, you can’t help but give out a little chuckle.