Great Northern Diver

Scientific Name: Gavin immer
Bird Name: Divers also known as Loons in Canada and North America.

On amber list for for Birds of Conservation Concern. It is one of three species of Divers( Loons) found in Ireland. It is the National Bird of Canada where it is known as the Common Loon.

This diver is a winter visitor and eats fish and crustaceans. They arrive in August and move back to their breeding grounds of North America, Greenland and Iceland in April and May. Some do stay in Ireland during the Summer but do not breed here.Fishermen thought they could not fly.

They weigh 3.6 to 4.5kg as bones are dense unlike most birds who have honeycomb bones to help them fly. Spends months on the sea without coming to land. They sleep in the water , to sleep it turns it’s neck and folds it’s head down to rest on it’s back. They take short naps 15minutes on average.

It’s feet are placed more to the tail of the bird which makes walking very difficult however makes them great divers.They sometimes have to lie on their stomach and push themselves along with their feet when on land.  They have red eyes which gives them great vision underwater.They have a spear like horizontal bill and have a nostril valve which closes when submerged .

In Ireland we view this bird as dull grey/white plumage in its winter plumage however in the breeding season in North America it’s a much more flamboyant bird of  glorious iridescent head colours and a chequer board-patterned back.
Can be seen regularly from the piers in Querrin and Seafield.

Comments about this page

  • Breandáin
    I regret that I do not know the difference between a Great Crested Grebe and a Great Northern Diver but I do know that Robert Brown was quite correct in his use of it’s (the short version of it is).
    Thank you for taking the time to comment. John Williams

    By John Williams (28/10/2022)
  • The photographs by Robert Brown show a great crested grebe, not a great northern diver. I’ve been looking at both of them today. Also it’s “its”, not “it’s”.

    By Breandán Mac Séarraigh (17/10/2022)

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