Frequently Asked Questions
Students Ask and Experts Answer
Ways to use in the Classroom


  • size
  • weight
  • body systems
  • physiology
  • senses
  • other physical characteristics
  • communication

Life Cycle

  • longevity
  • birth and growth
  • reproduction and young
  • heredity
  • parenting behavior


  • habitat and range
  • niche
  • food
  • enemies
  • adaptations
  • migration
  • populations
  • distribution
  • ecosystems


  • threats/human impacts
  • habitat loss
  • conservation status
  • historic population size
  • conservation efforts, etc.


Q. How did the loon get its name?

Q. What is the scientific name and classification of the loon?

Q. Do males and females have the same plumage?

Q. Why do loons have red eyes?

Q. What are a loon's air sacs?

Q. How might a loon's air sacs determine how high or low in the water the loon was swimming?

Q. Why do loons have such small wings when they have such big bodies?

Are loons good fliers?

Why do loons need to run for take off?

Why aren't loons found on small lakes or ponds?

How fast can a loon fly?

Q. Why are loons silent in the winter in the south?

Life Cycle

Q. How long is the normal lifespan of a loon?

Q. What do loons need to raise young successfully?

Q. Do all the loons return to their summer breeding lakes in the north?

Do loons have the same mate from year to year?

How do loons mate?

Q. How big are a loon's eggs?

Q. Why do loons lay only two eggs?

Q. What color are loon eggs?

Q. Why are the eggs laid and hatched on different days?

Q. Why do young loons fight?


Q. What do scientists hope to learn by banding loons?

Q. How do researches get tags on the loons to track them?

What do loons eat in their summer breeding grounds?

Q. What do loons eat in their winter feeding grounds?

Q. Why do migrating loons frequently fly with their mouth open?

Q. How far (long) can loons fly at one period of time?

How do loons manage to time their arrival on a lake for the very day of, or the day after, ice out?

What if loons head north too early?

Q. What do loons do in most years when they find their lakes frozen?

Q. Why do loons migrate to the ocean instead of spending the winter on inland lakes that don't freeze?

Why would it be a problem for a loon to be on a lake when ice starts forming?

Q. Where do loons stop to rest during their migration?

Q. How do loons, who breed in fresh water lakes, adapt to salt water when they migrate to the oceans for wintering?

Q. Why do loons molt?

Q. When do loons molt?

Q. Why do loons lose and then grow all their flight feathers at once, instead of one or two at a time like crows, hawks, and eagles do?

Q. How does molting affect a loon?

What is the reason for loons 'rafting' in the fall before their southern migration? (Rafting means gathering in huge numbers.)

Will loons use any lake for rafting, or are there special requirements?


Q. What are the threats to loons today?

Q. If a loon were trying to elude a motorboat, would it be more likely to dive or to sink into the water? How about if it were trying to elude a distant Bald Eagle?

Q. How does mercury from the atmosphere end up in a loon?

What kinds and sizes of fish are worst for mercury contamination?

What are some effects of mercury poisoning on loons?

How widespread is mercury pollution in North America?

Does the mercury in lakes ever "go away," or must it forever be part of the food chain, ending up in fish and loons?

What methods are available to remove mercury from lakes?

How do scientists study mercury levels in loons?

What can studying a loon's feathers tell about mercury in its body?

Does intake of mercury cause loons to live shorter lives?

Are food eaten in the summer more likely to give loons mercury than fish they eat on the wintering grounds?

Why is research on mercury contamination of loons important for human health?

What factors make loons good "early warning" indicators for human health?

Q. What does the term bioaccumulate mean?

Q. Could someone have a pet loon?