LOONS. Family GAVIIDAE

Loons may be likened to gigantic Grebes from which they differ externally, chiefly in the full webbed foot instead of the individually webbed toes of the Grebe, and in the sharper, msore pointed and spear-like bill. These birds are similar in their habits to the Grebes , except that their homes are generally more substantially built and are placed upon a solid foundation, generally upon an island in some inland lake.

Both Loons and Grebes are literally "Water witches," being practically, and in the case of Grebes, actually, born in the water and living in it ever afterwards. Loons are strong fliers, but like the Grebes, because of their small wings they must get their first impetus from the water in order to rise; in case there is any wind blowing they also make use of this by starting their flight against it. They are very peculiar birds and the expression "crazy as a loon" is not a fanciful one, being formed from their early morning and evening antics when two or more of them will race over the top of the water, up and down the lake, all the while uttering their demoniacal laughter. They vie with the Grebes in diving and disappear at the flash of a gun.

EGG OF LOON Dark greenish brown

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THE BIRD BOOK

L.oon Black-throated Loon

7. LOON. Gavia immer.

Range. North America north of the Mexican boundary, breeding from the northern parts of the United States northward.

Unlike the Grebes, Loons do not build in colonies, generally not more than one, or at the most two pairs nesting on the same lake or pond; neither do they seek the marshy sloughs in which Grebes dwell, preferring the more open, clear bodies of water. The common Loon may be known in summer by the entirely black head and neck with the complete ribbon of black and white stripes encircling the lower neck and the narrower one which crosses the throat. The back is spotted with white. In some sections Loons build no nest, simply scooping a hollow out in the sand, while in other places they construct quite a large nest of sticks, moss and grasses. It is usually placed but a few feet from the waters edge, so that at the least suspicion the bird can slide off its eggs into the water, where it can cope with any enemy. The nests are nearly always concealed under the overhanging bushes that line the shore; the one shown in the full page illustration, however, was located upon the top of an old muskrat house. The two eggs which they lay are a very dark greenish brown in color, with black spots. Size 3.50x2.25. Data. Lake Sunapee, N. H., June 28, 1895. Nest placed under the bushes at the waters edge. Made of rushes, weeds and grasses; a large structure nearly three feet in diameter. Collector, H. A. Collins.

8. YELLOW-BILLED LOON. Gavia adamsi.

Range. Northwestern North America, along the Arctic and northern Alaskan coasts.

The Yellow-billed Loon with the exception of its whitish or yellowish bill in place of the black, is practically otherwise indistinguishable from the common Loon. It averages somewhat larger in size. This is one of the most northerly breeding birds and it is only within a very few years that anything has been learned about the breeding habits. Their nesting habits and eggs are precisely like the preceding except that the lattr average a little larger. Size 3.60 x 2.25.

9. BLACK-THROATED LOON. Gavia arctica.

Range. From northern United States northward, breeding along the Arctic Coast.

This species can be easily separated from the Loon by the gray crown and white streaks down the back of the neck. Its size, too, is about five inches shorter. The nesting habits are the same as the Loons and the eggs have rather more of an olive tint besides having the majority of spots at the larger end. Size 3.10x 2.00.

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DIVING BIRDS

10. PACIFIC Loox. Gavia pacifica.

Range. Western North America along the coast chiefly, breeding from Alaska south to British Columbia. In winter, south along the coast to Mexico.

This species differs from the Black-throated only in the tint of the head reflections. The habits are the same as those of the other members of the family. They lay two eggs of a greenish brown or greenish gray hue with black spots. Size 3.10 x 1.90. Data. Yukon River, Alaska, June 28, 1902. Nest of rubbish on an island; found by a miner.

11. RED-THROATED LOON. Gavia stellata. Range. Northern parts of North America,

breeding from southern Canada northward in the interior on both coasts. South to the middle portions of the United States in winter.

This is the smallest of the Loon family, being twenty-five inches in length. In plumage it is wholly unlike any of the other members at all seasons of the year. In summer the back, head and neck are gray, the latter being striped with white. A large chestnut patch adorns the front of the lower part of the neck. In winter the back is spotted with white, whereas all the others are unspotted at this period. The nesting habits are identical with the other species; the ground color of the two eggs is also the same. Size, 2.00 x 1.75.

Pacific Loon

Red-throated Loon

PACIFIC LOON Greenish brown or gray

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J. A. Munro

NEST AND EGGS OF LOON This nest is built on top of a Muskrat house

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DIVING BIRDS

NEST AND EGGS OF PIED-BILLED GREBE