WatchList Species Account for Yellow-billed Loon
(Gavia adamsii)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Photo: ©
Photo: Ted Swen/USFWS

The largest of the five loon species, the Yellow-billed Loon breeds in arctic North America and across Eurasia north of the tree line. In North America this relatively rare bird spends the breeding season on the high Arctic tundra of Alaska and Canada, west of Hudson Bay, and winters in nearshore marine waters along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to British Columbia with a few found on reservoirs in the interior of the U.S., east to Illinois and south to Arizona and Texas. Its breeding habitat is on lakes and slow-moving rivers in tundra regions, where it nests on islands and shorelines, often in hummocks. It feeds largely on fish but takes some invertebrates and vegetation.


Its world population has been estimated at fewer than 10,000 individuals, of which half are in Alaska. No information on world-wide population trends is available, though the numbers seem stable in some parts of Alaska and increasing in others. Some drown in commercial, native subsistence, and fishery research nets and traps. Wintering and migration habitat is subject to degradation by oil pollution, and as many as 870 Yellow-billed Loons were killed in the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Disturbance and mortality due to oil exploration and production is also a threat.