Before loons can reproduce they must go through a courtship process. This is the process of finding a life partner. Yes indeed, Gavia immer mate for life!


    The process of finding a mate is a very ritualized process. Loons use specific signs and behavior to signal availability and the desire to mate.
Preening is a common display used during the mating process. This is when the loon shows a significant amount of their white throat patch. Loons also dip their bills into the water, throw their heads up, and dive in unison with the perspective mate. Both a quick dive and a splashing dive take place. Another mating characteristic is the “mew” call. This call is short and soft. Once they have courted a mate, the male goes ashore to a copulation site. According to, Mating Behavior of the Common Loon, the female then follows and turns to her side exposing her white belly. The male then proceeds to copulate. After the copulation the two loons return to the water and swim together for several minutes. The male and female then begin pulling plants from shallow waters and building a nest a ways away from the copulation site.


     The nest site is very important to Gavia immer. They often pick a site close to the water on an island and place the vegetation carelessly. Making a nest does not take long. A few days after the nest is made the female will lay her eggs. The process of laying eggs takes a lot of energy and the female is usually worn out after the experience. Loon eggs are usually a green-brown color, as seen in the picture to the right.
Gavia immer usually lay two eggs. There are some circumstances where only one egg is found in a nest. The female loon and male loon must then incubate the eggs for about a month. Both the male and female take turns sitting on the eggs; they are kept at about 95° F. After a month of incubation the chicks hatch and return to the water with their parents right away. The chicks ride on the back of one of the parents for the first week. This keeps the chick safe from predation, warm, and saves the chick from loss of energy. As mentioned on the Nutrition page chicks begin searching for fish after the first week, when they are swimming on their own. Loon parents are very protective of their chicks and their nest during the nesting period. If a predator were to endanger the chicks, the loon uses the yodel call, flaring its wings and raising its chest.

  As the chicks get older they grow extremely fast. At six weeks of age they are nearly the size of their parent but still posses immature feathers that have a brown color. The juvenile loons develop flight feathers, the shiny black and white ones, at around eleven weeks of age. These feathers have a pattern unique to loons are present in both female and male birds. To take care of their feathers they engage in preening. Just like finding a mate this a vital part of feather up keep. It allows the loon to shake off any unwanted matter and keeps the wings looking shiny and nice. After the development of the flight wings and feathers, the young loons are no longer dependent on their parent, but on themselves.


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