Gavia pacifica Lawrence, 1858. Monotypic.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Pacific diver; French: Plongeon du Pacifique; German: Weissnackentaucher; Spanish: Colimbo del Pacifico.
20–27 in (50–68 cm); 3.7 lb (1.7 kg). Very similar to the larger Arctic loon in all plumages. Bill medium-sized, straight. Black upperparts with white patches, white underparts, black throat, and gray head and neck (darker near bill). Differentiated from the Arctic loon by black flanks, paler nape, and thinner white stripes on neck. In hand, throat shows faint purple iridescence. Basic, juvenal, and second alternate plumages similar, with gray upperparts, crown, and nape and white underparts.
Breeds on tundra ponds from eastern Siberia to Hudson Bay; winters on Pacific Ocean from southern Japan to Siberia, Alaska to southern California. Migration chiefly occurs coastally.
Breeds on medium-sized lakes and ponds in northern forests and tundra. Excluded from large lakes by yellow-billed and common loons; excludes red-throated loons from mediumsized lakes. Winters in coastal areas, often farther offshore than other species.
Males give territorial yodel call that is individually recognizable, and can be heard from miles away. Pacific loons are unafraid of humans, and allow close approach on breeding grounds. A pair was observed adopting a brood of spectacled eiders; this is the only reported case of adoption in Gaviidae. FEEDING EC OLOGY AND DIET Consumes a wide variety of fish; feeding and diet similar to other species.
Breeds on medium-sized ponds, sympatric with the Arctic loon where ranges overlap; pairs of both species have been found on the same lake. Breeds from May to September. Incubation 28–30 days, fly at 60 days. Predators include gulls (Larus), foxes (Aloplex and Vulpes), jaegers (Stercorarius), and ravens (Corvus).
Most populations stable. Not listed on IUCN Red List of Threatened Birds.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Inuit legally hunt loons for subsistence on breeding grounds; 4,600 loons (of all species) are taken yearly.
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