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Length. 53-69cm (21-27"), Wingspan 110cm (43")
The smallest diver (loon) with head and bill held at an upward angle are useful identification features at all seasons. Adult breeding: Grey-brown above with scattered white steaks and spots and whitish below. Head grey with black and white vertical stripes on the nape and dark red throat patch. Adult non-breeding: Much duller, grey-brown spotted with white above and whitish below. Dark crown and nape blend into white face and foreneck, lacking the sharp contrast of other divers (loons). Immature: Similar to winter adult but with gray wash across foreneck; smaller white spots above.
The rather larger Black-throated Diver/Arctic Loon, which holds its bill straight, has vertical white stripes on the sides of the neck and shows a white rear flank patch. In non-breeding plumage, Red-throated often shows broad white area on its sides at the water line, not just on flanks.
Winters in North America from the Aleutians south to north-west Mexico on the Pacific coast, the Great Lakes, and on the Atlantic south to Florida and the Gulf Coast. European wintering range mainly from Iceland and Norway south to Biscay and the northern Mediterranean, also in the southern Baltic, the Black and Caspian Sea. Rarely reaches the Mediterranean coast of North Africa. In the far east, winters off Japan, less commonly south to Taiwan.
Usually solitary but may be loosely colonial in some areas. Breeds late May-September. Nest a bare scrape beside water or a more substantial mound of vegetation built in shallow water. Eggs: 2 (rarely 1), olive-buff to dark olive-brown with sparse black blotches (75 x 48mm). Incubated by both sexes but mainly female for 24-29 days. Young tended by both sexes and fly at about 42 days
Barr, J. F., C. Eberl, and J. W. McIntyre (2000). Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.513
Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2018). Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52473 on 4 September 2018).
Sangster, G., Collinson, J.M., Helbig, A.J., Knox, A.G. & Parkin, D.T. (2005) Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: third report. Ibis 147(4): 821â€“826.