Minnesota State Bird

Common Loon

Minnesota state bird: Common Loon Gaviaimmer




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Minnesota State Bird Description:

  • Size: 26 to 36 inches (66-91 cm)
  • Wingspan: 41 to 52 inches (104-131 cm)
  • Weight: 88.25 to 215.33 ounces (2500-6100 g)

The Common Loon is a large waterbird that sits low inthe water. It has a long pointed bill. The long body slopes to the rear.

Breeding adults are black on their head, neck, wings andsides. There are large white checkered markings on the back.The chest, underparts and throat are white. There is a white neck ring with vertical black bars and a patch of smaller stripes below the throat. They have black bills and red eyes.

Non-breeding adults are grey to grey-brown on theirhead, neck, wings and sides. The underparts and throat are white. The border along the neck is irregular and has dark and light shades. There is a white wedge of color that extends from the throat to the back of the neck. The eyes are dark with white cresents surrounding them. The bill is silvery-grey with a black upper edge.

The males and females look the same with the malebeing slightly larger.


Common Loons nest on lakes and large ponds. Because of their solid bone structure and weight distribution, Loons require as much as 100 feet of water surface for take-offs. This limits their nesting choices to bodies of water at least that size. Weather also restricts their habitat selection. As the ponds and lakes begin to freeze, they must migrate to a shallow coastal marine habitat.


The Common Loon is most abundant in Canada and the Northern United States, including Alaska. They spend their winters along both coasts of North America and can be found as far south as Baja California and Texas.


Common Loons eat all kinds of aquatic animals including, fish,crayfish, shrimp and leeches. Since they are visual hunters, clear water is critical. Adult Loons eat most of the food they catch while still underwater. They feed in water 3 to 13 feet deep.


The Minnesota state bird breeds once per year. The male and female work together to build a nest around two feet in diameter. It is made of soil, grass, moss and other vegetation. Nests are usually built near the surface of a lake in a sheltered location, often on a small island. The clutch will contain from 1 to 3 eggs. The male and female both participate in incubation, which usually takes about 29 days.

A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know About the MinnesotaState Bird:

  • Loons are often seen carrying theirchicks on their backs once they are ready to leave the nest. Chicks remain with their parents for up to three months, until they are able to fly.
  • If the chicks get cold the parents willcover them with their wings.
  • The Loon is an excellent swimmer and canstay underwater for long periods of time and can dive as deep as 90 feet.

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