Loon

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Order-level:
Colymbiformes Sharpe, 1891 (but see text)

Family-level:
Colymbidae Vigors, 1825 (but see text)
Colymbinae Bonaparte, 1831 (but see text)
Urinatores Vieillot, 1818
Urinatoridae Vieillot, 1818[verification needed]
Urinatorides Vieillot, 1818

Genus-level:
Colymbus Linnaeus, 1758 (but see text)
Urinator Lacépède, 1799

The loons (North America) or divers (UK/Ireland) are a group of aquatic birds found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia (Europe, Asia and debatably Africa). All living species of loons are members of the genus (Gavia), family (Gaviidae) and order (Gaviiformes).

Contents

Description

The loon is the size of a large duck or small goose, which it resembles in shape when swimming. Like ducks and geese but unlike coots (which are Rallidae) and grebes (Podicipedidae), the loon's toes are connected by webbing. The bird may be confused with cormorants (Phalacrocoracidae), not too distant relatives of divers and like them are heavy set birds whose bellies – unlike those of ducks and geese – are submerged when swimming. Flying loons resemble a plump goose with a seagull's wings, relatively small in proportion to the bulky body. The bird holds its head pointing slightly upwards during swimming, but less so than cormorants do. In flight the head droops more than in similar aquatic birds.

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