Aspects of Common Loon (Gavia immer) feeding biology on its breeding ground
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Field studies and experiments with hand-reared loons found loons to be facultative predators, foraging on a variety of fishes, crustateans and other aquatic animals. Loons selected certain species and size of prey when present, favoured fusiform shapes and atypical, erratic swimming behavior, but took the most readily available and susceptible to capture, often yellow perch. Chick feeding behaviour developed during the first 8 wks after which physical maturity permitted independent feeding. Juveniles resembled adults in size and shape by wk-11, and were capable of catching all of their own food. Evidence suggests that loons are not harmful to sport fisheries and may ba beneficial by supressing species competing with game fish.
Territories averaged 72 ha, and food may be a determinant for maximum size. Based on the average amount of food required by a chick for its first 15 wks (53 kg), plus the daily consumption of older birds (960) g, a pair of loons rearing 2 chicks could remove about 423 kg of food during 5.5 months on territory.
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