You will probably hear the loon's distinctive call before you will see it. Chances are, you will also think that distinctive call is someone either laughing or crying if you've never heard it before. Depending on the time of day, loon calls range from something like a yodel, to a plaintive wailing that can be heard for long distances. Ever hear the expressions "looney" or "crazy as a loon"? The loon inspired both of them with its odd call.
Gavia stellata: Red-throated Loon
Gavia pacifica: Pacific Loon
Gavia immer: Common Loon
Gavia adamsii: Yellow-billed Loon
Loons can be found in mountain lakes throughout Montana, but Seeley, Salmon and Swan Lakes are perhaps the best places to spot them. Loons are actually larger than they appear—about the same size as geese—but because they sit lower in the water, it is difficult to judge their size. They generally weigh between 8 and 12 pounds. Loons are known for their incredible diving ability and eat a diet primarily of fish. Loons are extremely shy, so be extremely sensitive to a loon's movements. If a nesting loon is forced off its nest, the eggs could be lost to chill in less than an hour. Loons are beautiful birds, but best watched from a distance with binoculars.