The Great Northern Loon is one of the five loon species. Its closest relative is the other large black-headed species, the Yellow-billed Loon or White-billed Diver.
The female lays 1 to 3 eggs on a hollowed-out mound of dirt and vegetation very close to water. Both parents build the nest, sit on the egg or eggs, and feed the young.
Relationship with humans
These birds have disappeared from some lakes in eastern North America due to the effects of acid rain and pollution, as well as lead poisoning from fishing sinkers and mercury contamination from industrial waste. Artificial floating nesting platforms have been provided for loons in some lakes to reduce the impact of changing water levels due to dams and other human activities.
This diver is well known in Canada, appearing on the one-dollar "loonie" coin and the previous series of $20 bill, and is the provincial bird of Ontario. Also, it is the state bird of Minnesota.