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About Montana's Common Loons
COMMON LOONS (Gavia immer)

Common Loons are large, goose-size black and white northern diving birds that summer on open fresh water lakes and winter on coastal salt water. They are 2-3 feet long, weigh 8-12 pounds and have a wingspan of 4-5 feet. They feed mostly on fish, but also eat other aquatic animals, such as salamanders, leeches, frogs and insects.

Common Loons occur across Alaska, Canada, and the northern tier of the United States, but the common loon is not as common in the Western States as the name implies. Breeding pairs are found in only four states west of the Mississippi River. Montana has the largest western population with approximately 200 birds.
Breeding loons are found primarily in northwestern Montana west of the Continental Divide and north of Missoula. The highest concentrations of nesting loons are found in the Clearwater drainage east of Missoula and the Tobacco-Stillwater drainage stretching from north of Kalispell to Eureka. Loons are also found in Glacier National Park. For more specific viewing information contact the Seeley Lake Ranger Station at (406) 677-2233, the Murphy Lake Ranger Station at (406) 882-4451 or Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks at (406) 752-5501.

Loons also migrate through Montana in route to Canadian lakes and can be observed on large reservoirs and lakes in many parts of the state during the spring and fall seasons. Some examples of migratory stop-over sites include Pablo National Wildlife Refuge and Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana, Clark Canyon and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs in southwestern and central Montana, and Fort Peck Reservoir in northeastern Montana. Migrating loons are also occasionally sighted on large rivers such as the Missouri and Yellowstone.