The Red-throated is smaller than the Common Loon, about the size of a Merganser. It has a gray head and throat with a rufous patch in front. Thin white stripes run down the back of his neck onto a black and white spotted back. However, this breeding plumage is rarely seen. By the time the Red-throated reaches U. S. waters, it has already molted. Its winter plumage is similar to the Common Loon, only paler. It is easily distinguishable by the direction of its bill.
This loon breeds and summers from Alaska across Arctic Canada, British Columbia and Manitoba to Newfoundland. It is found nesting on coastal and tundra ponds.
Calls or song.
High-pitched wails and shrieks mostly during breeding; otherwise, this bird is pretty silent.
Population and distribution.
When fall sets in, the Red-throated Loon makes its way south over the oceans of both coasts to Southern California, the Gulf Coast and the east and west coasts of Florida, where it seeks large lakes, bays and estuaries. Recent oil spills are a constant danger to the Red-throated Loon.
The female Red-throat lays two brownish-olive, spotted eggs in a nest made of acquatic plants. Because of the position of the loon's legs, far back into its body, it has trouble walking, and therefore, locates its nest as near as possible to water.