The yellow-billed loon (Gavia adamsii), also known as the white-billed diver, is the largest member of the loon or diver family. The adult is primarily black and white in breeding plumage, with a purple gloss on its head and neck. Has a length of 76 to 97 cm (30 to 38 in), a wingspan of 135 to 160 cm (53 to 63 in), and a weight ranging from 4 to 6.4 kg (8.8 to 14.1 lb).

Habitat and Distribution

The yellow-billed loon is an Arctic species, breeding primarily along the coasts of the Arctic Ocean as far north as 78? N and wintering on sheltered coastal waters of the northern Pacific Ocean and the northwestern coast of Norway. It has been recorded as a breeding bird in Russia, Canada and the United States. Though it winters primarily to the north of 50? N, its winter range extends south to 35? N off the coast of Japan, and it has been recorded as a vagrant in more than 20 countries, including some as far south as Mexico and Spain.


The yellow-billed loon is a specialist fish eater, though it also takes crustaceans, molluscs and annelids. It dives in pursuit of prey, which is caught underwater.


Though it prefers freshwater pools or lakes in the tundra, the yellow-billed loon will also breed along rivers, estuaries or the coast in low-lying areas of the Arctic; in general, it avoids forested areas. Breeding typically starts in early June, though it is dependent on the timing of the spring thaw. Like all members of its family, the yellow-billed loon builds a nest of plant material very close to the edge of the water. The female lays two eggs.