Birdwatching Canada

A voice for the northern birds

Canada’s Day – Canada’s Bird

Can you name Canada’s National Bird? You may get a clue from our coins!

Our national bird is the Common Loon, which also explains our loonies and toonies that the world loves to laugh about. And before you ask, no a baby loon is not called a loonie (or twins called toonies). Baby loons are simply called chicks, just like other waterfowl babies.

Common Loons have striking red eyes, black heads and necks, and white striping, checkering, and spotting on their backs. As well as being Canada’s national bird, they are also the provincial bird of Ontario.

Common Loon on nest

Common Loon on nest

Loons are one of the most aquatic of birds. Their legs are placed so far back on their bodies they have extreme difficulty walking on land, and were named for their clumsy, awkward appearance on dry ground.

Also known as Great Northern Divers, Common Loons swim underwater to catch fish, propelling themselves with the feet. They swallow most of their prey underwater. They have sharp, rearward-pointing projections on the roof of their mouth and tongue that help them keep a firm hold on slippery fish.

Loons can dive more than 200 feet (61 meters) below the surface of the water in search of food, and are Canada’s deepest diving bird. They can stay underwater for nearly a minute.

Their unusual cries are distinct to individuals and can be heard at great distances. Loon cries are most prevalent during breeding season as pairs aggressively defend their territories. The eerie yodel of the Common Loon is a true symbol of wild Canada.

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Filed under: Waterfowl, , ,

Calling All Loon Watchers

Bird Studies Canada is looking for your help.

common-loon1

Bird Studies Canada photo

Anyone who has listened to their wild call echoing across a tranquil northern lake can appreciate how the Common Loon has become a much-loved wilderness symbol. The loon has a special place in the hearts of many lakeside residents and visitors, and is deeply missed in its absence.

The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey was first initiated in Ontario in 1981 to assess the long-term health and productivity of Common Loons, and the lakes they depend on. Loons breed on lakes throughout most of Canada, and as top predators, their survival reflects broader lake health. Each year, hundreds of volunteer participants spend time observing loons on lakes where they breed in Canada: at least once in June (for loon pairs), once in July (for newly hatched chicks), and once in August (for young that survive to fledge). This information is used to monitor loon chick survival over time, and is an important indicator of loon and lake health.

Contact Information:

Canadian Lakes Loon Survey
Bird Studies Canada
P.O. Box 160, 115 Front Street
Port Rowan, ON N0E 1M0
Ph. 1-888-448-2473 ext. 212
Fax: 1-519-586-3532
E-mail: aqsurvey@bsc-eoc.org

Filed under: Waterfowl, , ,

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