The black-throated loon is a large bird with magnetic beauty, slightly smaller than a goose. Its black, purple shimmering throat and foreneck contrast with a grey neck between which there are characteristic black and white stripes. On the back there is also chequered mantle with white spots. The bird has unique ruby eyes. The voice of black-throated loon is equally impressive as its breeding plumage.
Our ancestors considered it as a sacred bird. American Indian cultures still believe that the spirits of the dead speak through the birds and they are their reincarnation.
Water is the natural habitat of the black-throated loon. It feeds on fish caught with the help of a dagger-shaped bill. Relatively heavy skeleton and legs mounted at the end of the body, like propellers, allow the bird to dive even 50 meters into the water. It can stay there for 2-3 minutes. Displacement is then controlled by the amount of air between feathers. It feels rather embarrassed when remaining on the land... Walking is not really its thing. In practice it does not walk at all. It can only slide on his belly by pushing its feet against the ground. It is easy to guess that without any water runway the black-throated loon will not take off.
The loons are migratory birds. They nest in a freshwater reservoirs of the Northern Hemisphere - the zone of deciduous forests, taiga and tundra. It stays in Poland only temporarily.
Nowadays the main threat to their breeding sites is an increase in heavy metals and water contamination. Birds wintering at sea, in turn, are exposed to oil spills and entanglement in fishing nets.
These distinctive birds no longer nest in Poland. The last hatching of eggs took place in Masuria region 50-60 years ago. Due to the fact that the susceptible birds could not conform to the continuous movement at lakes, nests flooding by speeding motorboat, coasts rebuilding and pollution. Their nearest breeding sites are located in Lithuania and Belarus.
Author: Jacek Karczewski Source: Birds of Poland