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(Gaviiformes), an order of birds comprising one family, Gaviidae, with the single genus, Gavia, which has three species: the red-throated loon (Gavia stellata), black-throated loon (G. arctica), and common loon (G. immer).
Loons are large birds; for example, the body of the black-throated loon is approximately 70 cm long. The body is elongated; the bill is straight, sharp, and strong. The wings are narrow and pointed, and the tail is short. The loon has a white belly, the back is black with white markings or plain grayish brown. The front digits are webbed, and the rear digit is lobed. Members of the order are aquatic birds, well adapted for swimming and diving. On land they move about by crawling because of the special structure of their limbs.
Loons inhabit the tundra and forest zones of Europe, Asia, and America, distributed to the northernmost islands. In Asia they also live on steppe lakes and highlands of southern Siberian ranges. Their diet consists offish, which they catch when they dive. The birds nest on freshwater lakes. The nest is built on a flat shore near the water. The clutch contains one or two eggs, more rarely three, colored olive brown with speckles. The hatchlings are raised in broods. The skins (the white breast and belly) are made into “fur” goods.