loon

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loon,

common name for migratory aquatic birds found in fresh- and saltwater in the colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Its strange, laughing call carries for great distances. Like the grebesgrebe
, common name for swimming birds found on or near quiet waters in most parts of the world. Grebes resemble the loon and the duck; they have short wings, vestigial tails, and long, individually webbed toes on feet that are set far back on a short, stubby body.
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, loons float low in the water and their legs are placed far back. They are expert swimmers and divers, sometimes slipping below the surface to swim underwater, but they cannot walk on land and at nesting time must use bill and wings to inch along. In taking flight they patter across the water with their feet. Their long, sharp, strong beaks are well adapted for catching fish. North American species include the common loon, or great northern diver (Gavia immer), a black and white bird about 32 in. (80 cm) long; the red-throated loon (G. stellata); and the Arctic loon (G. arctica). Loons are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Gaviiformes, family Gaviidae.

loon

[lün]
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for birds composing the family Gaviidae, all of which are fish-eating diving birds.

loon

1
the US and Canadian name for diver (the bird)

loon

2
Archaic a person of low rank or occupation (esp in the phrase lord and loon)