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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.
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(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for birds composing the family Gaviidae, all of which are fish-eating diving birds.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


the US and Canadian name for diver (the bird)


Archaic a person of low rank or occupation (esp in the phrase lord and loon)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Project Loon

A wireless communications system from Google aimed at providing affordable Internet access to everyone in the world, especially those who currently have extremely slow access or none at all. Test trials began in New Zealand in 2013.

Using helium balloons traveling in wind currents several miles above airplanes and weather, solar-powered radios bounce LTE signals from earth stations to users on the ground at about 10 Mbps. To extend the distance, balloons can transmit to other balloons, and each one can last about six months. For more information, visit www.google.com/loon.

Loon is reminiscent of the Teledesic project in the 1990s that attempted to form a network of satellites for Internet access. See Teledesic.

Getting Ready
Workers unfurl the balloons to get them ready to launch into the stratosphere. (Image courtesy of Google).

Balloons Act Like Cell Towers
Each balloon covers an area about 35 miles in diameter. (Image courtesy of Google).
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