The loud cries of the Common Loon are
famous. However, they are only a migrant in South Dakota, and are
generally silent as they pass through the state. A
bird in breeding plumage is shown to the right. Other photos, including
those of birds in winter plumage, can be accessed below.
Habitat: Large lakes, coastal
waters. Prefers large wooded lakes or tundra lakes in summer, winters on
Diet: Mostly fish, Also aquatic insects, aquatic
plants, frogs, crustaceans, and leeches.
Behavior: Forages underwater, diving below the
surface and using its feet to propel itself. They will often partially
submerge their heads in search of prey before actually diving. Other
than breeding pairs during the summer and loose nighttime flocks, Common
Loons are often fairly solitary birds.
Nesting: Non-breeder in South Dakota.
Migration: Summers in Canada
and extreme northern U.S., winters along North American coasts.
Similar Species: Resembles other loons in winter
plumage, being most similar to the larger and more heavy-bodied
Loons and Pacific Loons are
other Loon species that have also been sighted within South Dakota, and can pose
identification problems in winter plumage.
Conservation Status: Some decrease in numbers in southern parts of
summer range due to human disturbance, water quality decreases. A good
"indicator species", being quite sensitive to water quality.
South Dakota "Hotspot": The Missouri River below
Oahe dam often holds Common Loons during migration. Occasionally,
nonbreeding birds can be found there in the summer as well. Waters
below other Missouri River reservoirs in the state are also good spots to
find them during migration.
eNature.com: Common Loon
Whatbird.com: Common Loon
Photo Information: June 2006 - Bald Lake, near
Willow, Alaska - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Common Loon photos.