Loon Adaptations: The Head
Streamlined for Diving with a Fishing
Spear at the Tip
Click for labeled photo
- Loon heads help give their bodies a torpedo shape for smooth, fast
- Their powerful, spear-shaped beak can stab or snap up fish quickly
and strongly. It can also be used as a tool to scare enemies, or even
to stab them.
- Their eye is brilliant red during the breeding season. This can be
seen from a big distance, giving loons a strong visual territorial
- The eye is adapted for good underwater vision year round, whether
it's brilliant red in the breeding season or dull reddish-brown during
the rest of the year.
- Big mouth at the base of the beak allows loons to swallow their slippery
prey whole. They manipulate fish with their beaks to swallow them head
- A salt gland between the eyes can filter extra salt from their blood
so loons can gulp down fish in the ocean without getting sick. The
salt gland shrinks when loons return to fresh water in spring, and
swells up the moment they taste salt in autumn.
- The head feathers feel like the thickest, softest velvet, and are
so dense that water doesn't seep through, even during fast dives. These
feathers keep loons dry and keep their brains warm even when swimming
amid ice floes in the Arctic Ocean.
- Black and white neck pattern may serve as part of the loon's display,
and may help it appear like sparkling water.