Endangered Species
Alaska Region   


Yellow-billed loon (Gavia adamsii)

Designation: In October 2014, we published a "not-warranted" 12-Month Finding in the Federal Register.

Loons are foot-propelled, fish-eating, diving birds. The yellow-billed loon is one of the largest of the five loon species and weighs between 9 and 13 pounds. It is very similar in appearance to the common loon, but has a larger yellow or ivory-colored bill. Yellow-billed loons nest adjacent to deep, permanent lakes with abundant fish and complex shorelines.  Nests are constructed of mud or peat and lined with vegetation.  One or two large eggs are laid in mid to late June.  

Critical Habitat: None designated

Distribution: Yellow-billed loons nest near freshwater lakes in the arctic tundra of Alaska on the Arctic Coastal Plain, northwestern Alaska and St. Lawrence Island; in Canada and in Russia.  The wintering range includes coastal waters of southern Alaska from the Aleutian Islands to Puget Sound; the Pacific coast of Asia from the Sea of Okhotsk south to the Yellow Sea; the Barents Sea and the coast of the Kola Peninsula; coastal waters of Norway; and Great Britain.

Threats: Subsistence harvest, oil and gas development and other contaminants, climate change, fishing bycatch, and marine pollution in wintering habitat in Asia may all play a role in yellow-billed loon survival. Their low reproductive rate, small population size, and specific habitat requirements limit the rate at which their population can grow.

Conservation efforts:  The Service, working with a variety of Native, State and Federal partners, are implementing conservation measures to protect the yellow-billed loon in northern and western Alaska.  We expect these cumulative actions will reduce impacts on yellow-billed loons.

Contacts: Ted Swem (907) 456-0441

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Last updated: October 1, 2014