Minnesota State Bird

Common Loon

State Symbol: Minnesota State Bird: Common Loon

(Gavia immer)

Adopted on March 13, 1961

Before the Legislature decided that the common loon should be Minnesota's state bird, several other birds were suggested, including the Eastern goldfinch (1947), the mourning dove (1951), the pileated woodpecker (1951 and 1953), the scarlet tanager (1951) and the wood duck (1951).

Read more about it: Elizabeth M. Bachmann, "Minnesota's New State Bird, the Loon,"Gopher Historian (Fall 1961): 17-22.

On January 17, 1961, House Bill No. 79 was introduced proposing that the common loon (Gavia immer) be adopted as the official state bird of Minnesota. It was approved by the Minnesota House of Representatives on February 18, 1961. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate. Senate Bill No. 843, was introduced shortly after the House vote on February 28, 1961. It was approved by the Senate on March 7, 1961. On March 13, 1961, Governor Elmer L. Andersen signed the legislation that adopted the common loon, (Gavia immer,) the official state bird of the State of Minnesota

Michigan State Bird: Common Loon

State Symbol: Minnesota State Bird: Common Loon

The common loon is one of the earth's oldest living bird species. Its name comes from a Norwegian word that means "wild, sad cry." Approximately 12,000 make their homes in Minnesota. Loons are large black-and-white birds with long black bills. Clumsy on land, they are excellent divers, underwater swimmers, and high-speed flyers.

Larger than a mallard but smaller than a goose, this water bird has a thick neck and a long, black bill. Its legs are set far back on its body, so it has an awkward gait on land. The male is slightly larger than the female, but otherwise the two sexes look identical

Characteristics of the Common Loon

  • Length: 24 inches Wingspan: 58 inches
  • Sexes similar
  • Large diving bird with long body that rides low in the water
  • Large bill is straight, tapers to a point, and is held horizontally
  • Feet set far back on body, and trail behind body in flight
  • Upperwings wholly dark in flight

Adult alternate

  • Black bill
  • Black head
  • Black neck with white markings
  • White chest and belly
  • Black back with white checkering and spotting

Adult basic

  • Pale gray bill
  • Gray-brown cap, forehead, nape, hindneck and back
  • White face, eye ring, chin, throat, foreneck and belly
  • Jagged border between white foreneck and dark hindneck


  • Like basic-plumaged adult but often with paler bill and white scalloping on back

Minnesota Statutes

The law designating the loon as the official Minnesota state bird is Section 1.145 (State Bird) of the Minnesota Statutes, Jurisdiction, Civil Divisions, Chapter 1 (SOVEREIGNTY, JURISDICTION, EMERGENCY OPERATION, GENERAL POLCIES) Section 1.145.

SECTION 1.145.

1.145 State bird.
Subdivision 1. Loon. The loon, Gavia immer, is the official bird of the state of Minnesota.

Subd. 2. Photograph. A photograph of the loon shall be preserved in the Office of the Secretary of State.

HIST: 1961 c 76 s 1,2; 1984 c 628 art 1 s 1

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Common Loon

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
    Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Aves - birds
Order: Ciconiiformes - albatrosses, alcids, auks, cormorants, diurnal birds of prey, eagles, falconiforms, falcons, flamingos, grebes, gulls, hawks, herons, ibises, loons, osprey, oystercatchers, pelicans, penguins, petrels, plovers, shearwaters, shore birds, storks, totipalmate swimmers, tube-nosed swimmers
Family: Gaviidae - loons
Genus: mGavia Forster, 1788 - loons
Species: Gavia immer (Brunnich, 1764) - Colimbo mayor, common loon

Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:Bird selected (by the legislature) as an emblem of a State.