Alberta, Canada
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Pacific Loon
Gavia pacifica
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General Description

By Jim Davis

The Pacific Loon, previously known as the Arctic Loon, has now been recognized as a separate species. The breeding range is from the Beaufort Sea to the Hudson Bay Lowlands, of the Canadian Arctic; and in eastern Siberia. In Alberta it has been known to nest on the Canadian Shield in the extreme northeast corner of the province.

Annual migration previously thought to occur in pairs, often occurs in small to medium sized flocks unlike other loons; is to the west coast of North America, as far south as Baja California, where it winters well offshore. Immature birds typically do not migrate to the breeding grounds. A rare migrant in Alberta: in the spring most observations are in northern Alberta, indicating probable overland routes through the lower mountain passes, on a return to the Hudson's Bay area; more often seen in the fall, usually in October, birds are sometimes seen in Calgary at the Glenmore Reservoir.

Their diet is largely fish, supplemented by mollusks, crustaceans, frogs, insects, and plants. Adults may forage in either freshwater or marine environments, at a considerable distance from the nesting grounds.

Reproduces at two years, nesting near shore on a platform large enough to land on, in a shallow depression lined with vegetation. One to three eggs, variegated deep brown-gray-lavender-black, hatch asynchronously. Incubation 29 days, attended by both parents, fledging at 60 days.

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Where to find Pacific Loons in Alberta   

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