Gavia stellataIceland / Jun 17, 2011
The red-throated loon (North America) or red-throated diver (Britain and Ireland) (Gavia stellata) is a migratory aquatic bird found in the northern hemisphere. The most widely distributed member of the loon or diver family, it breeds primarily in Arctic regions, and winters in northern coastal waters. Ranging from 55 to 67 centimetres (22 to 26 in) in length, the red-throated loon is the smallest and lightest of the world's loons. In winter, it is a nondescript bird, greyish above fading to white below. During the breeding season, it acquires the distinctive reddish throat patch which is the basis for its common name. Fish form the bulk of its diet, though amphibians, invertebrates, and plant material are sometimes eaten as well. A monogamous species, the red-throated loon forms long-term pair bonds. Both members of the pair help to build the nest, incubate the eggs (generally two per clutch), and feed the hatched young.
The red-throated loon has a large global population and a significant global range, though some populations are declining. Oil spills, habitat degradation, pollution, and fishing nets are among the major threats this species faces. Natural predators—including various gull species, and both red and Arctic foxes, will take eggs and young. The species is protected by international treaties.