12 Fascinating Facts About the Common Loon

At Rocky Mountain Flannel, we’re fortunate to meet so many people from around the world. Banff is often sought after, nestled right in the vast Canadian Wilderness. The beautiful mountains surround us and bring a sense of awe to those who experience the rocky captivity.

It’s no secret that the Canadian wilderness is breathtaking. Wander through our parks and you’re overwhelmed with a sense of tranquility. Visit some of our serene lakes and, if you listen closely, you can hear the beautiful call of one of Canada’s most iconic birds - the Common Loon.

So long as you’re in Canada, you won’t have to go very far to find the Loon. Every province and territory in the country is home to the species. The common Loon is a migratory bird, finding open bodies of water all over Canada in spring and summer months to nest.

Canada’s widely used $1 coin, the "loonie" features an image of our iconic bird. The 1991 series of the $20 bill also features the Common Loon. While not officially Canada's bird, it is definitely thought of by many to be just that.

We're proud to stand behind this iconic bird. So much so, that we feature it on our shelves.  Check out our Love of the Loon Collection to see beautiful products featuring the Common Loon!

Love of the Loon Collection

Want to know more about the beautiful bird? Here are 12 fascinating facts about the common loon:

#1 The Common Loon Is NOT A Duck

Contrary to what many think, the Loon is NOT a duck. You'll often hear many make this misconception. While a bird of the water, the Loon is classified separately by scientists. In fact, there are five loon species that make up the Gavia Genus

#2 The Common Loon Is A Seasonally Monogamous Breeder

Loons begin breeding at 2 years in age. The species is a monogamous breeder; they will pair up for a season and stay together until migration. Courtship can be witnessed as bill-dipping and dives. Once a pair bonds, the male and female will build a nest together. This typically occurs in early May.

#3 The Common Loon Prefers Particular Breeding Locations

Not only are loons monogamous with partners, but loyal to breeding site as well. Loons will often reuse nest sites, and studies show an increased success rate with these "recycled" nests than the initial attempt. 

These nests are situated very close to water, and preference has been noted to be on island locations away from potential predators.

Loons are also very territorial, claiming an area from 59 to 200 acres!

#4 The Common Loon Is An Amazing Diver

Sometimes referred to as the "Northern Diver", the Common Loon has been recorded to have dived up to a staggering 70m!

The waterfowl can also stay under the surface for quite some time - sometimes for longer than one minute. The average dive time is said to be about 42 seconds.

Check out this video of a Loon swimming with some scuba divers:

#5 The Common Loon Is An Excellent Fisher

One perk of being such a great diver is the bird's ability to catch prey. It is said that 80% of the Common Loon's diet is fish. With its webbed feet, the "Northern Diver" effortlessly maneuvers underwater to hunt for its main food source. 

#6 The Common Loon Eats A LOT

With its excellent fishing abilities, the Common Loon has the ability to take in a lot of its main food source. It has been estimated that a pair of Loons will eat 425kg of fish during the time they spend in their breeding territory!

#7 The Common Loon Can Fly Fast

It's not the most efficient bird when it comes to taking off, needing a long runway to catch flight; however, once it gets going the Loon can fly fast. The bird will fly upwards of hundreds of kilometres during migration with a reported speed of 120 km/h!

#8 The Common Loon's Eyes Change With The Season

It's well-known that Loons have beautiful, crimson red eyes. What some might not know is that this is only during mating season - thought to be for attraction towards the opposite sex, as well as defending territory.

Not only do the eyes change to a grey outside of mating season, but the plumage will also change, where the Loon will lose its spottedness and turn to a dark-brownish colour.

Common Loon plumage mating season

(photo credit: John Picken)

Loon plumage non-breeding

(photo credit: Dick Daniels)

#9 The Oldest Common Loon Recorded Was Almost 30 Years Old

The Loon has quite the lifespan, sometimes living more than 20 years in age. The longest living Loon recorded has been thought to be around 29 years and 10 months old.

#10 The Common Loon Has A Variety Of Vocalizations

Loons are well known for their ambient wail. This call is often compared to that of a wolf's howl. 

They also display a variety of other vocalizations, including a tremolo, yodel, and hoot. 

The Tremelo is a short, wavering sound that is characterized as a "laughing" call. It is used to signal distress or territorial threats. 

The Yodel is only used by the male as a territorial call and to establish dominance. The length of the call signifies the level of aggression in the bird.

The hoot is used amongst a family of loons to signal location, and to summon chicks for feeding time.

#11 The Common Loon is Very Clumsy 

The way the Loon's legs are set (far back on the body), they are not good at walking. The common loon will push itself along on its belly. 

Loons got their name due to clumsiness. Loon is adapted from the word loom, which comes from the Icelandic word lomr and the Swedish word lom (both referring to one who is lame or clumsy).  


Giving Tuesday 2017

Giving Tuesday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday contribute to - without a doubt - one of the busiest weekends in retail shopping. Customers flood stores both online and in person to take advantage of the deals that become available over the weekend. This year in particular, we were especially surprised to see how many people loved our free mug giveaway. We are ecstatic to have had so much interest in these cozy buffalo check mugs!

Following a busy weekend of shopping such as this, it’s important to reflect on our blessings and ability to provide for ourselves and loved ones. Giving Tuesday is a global movement following the Black Friday weekend which marks the "opening day of the giving season." It’s about giving back and bringing real change within local communities.

Rocky Mountain Flannel has been a part of the Bow Valley area ever since it first opened its doors in Canmore. Since moving to Banff, we’ve been so fortunate to experience what both towns have to offer. Our love extends through our beautiful communities within the Canadian rockies, and we couldn’t be more grateful to share our love while giving back where we can. 

Banff is a thriving national park and in 1984, declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Diverse crowds from all over the world come and go to visit our beautiful town; however, we are more than just a destination on the map. We are a strong community. And here at Rocky Mountain Flannel Company, we are proud of our humble little town in the mountains.

Because it’s Giving Tuesday, we wanted to reflect on our efforts to contribute to the Bow Valley communities. Some of our contributions include:

  • Ongoing contributions to the SPCA -  we LOVE animals. We stock our shelves with beautiful flannel bandanas and donate a portion of their sales to the Bow Valley SPCA.
  • Cross Country Alberta Ski Team - one of our initiatives is our contribution to outdoor sports and activities, like our assistance to the Cross Country Alberta Ski Team.
  • Golf Tournament for the Glen Sather - we were part of a collective helping raise $425k for the YWCA and Banff Community Foundation.
  • Ongoing contributions to local charities.
  • Participation in silent auctions.

Giving back to the community is something we focus on continually - year round. In light of Giving Tuesday, we wanted to take the time out to reflect on some of our contributions and encourage others to give back in any way that they can. Remember that giving needn't be monetary. With so many volunteer opportunities and events within the community, it's easy (and super rewarding) to contribute in any way you can. 

Three things you didn't know about Kananaskis

Kananaskis Country Flannel Shirt Mens 9 ounce

We love K Country and we're not alone

Tucked away amongst the Rocky Mountains, characterized by glacier capped peaks and endless lakes, you'll find Kananaskis. It's a local favourite, and once you visit you'll know why. It's a hotspot for cross country skiers, downhill riders, hikers, adventurers and nature lovers alike. 

The Rocky Mountain Flannel team recently went out to Kananaskis for an adventure, and brought some shirts along the way. Our visit got us thinking about the history of this ancient area, and after digging up the records, we were surprised with what we found.

Without further ado, here are three of the most surprising facts about Kananaskis. 

The 200 million year old mountain peaks are made from layers of fossilized sea creatures  

The limestone mountains that make up Kananaskis are in part the result of thousands fossilized sea creatures that are millions of years old. Ancient pieces of coral reef, shark teeth, and oyster beds have been found in this area. They come from the sea that once covered Alberta. The mountains themselves are covered in a glacier that was once over a kilometre thick - now that's a lot of ice! 

Kananaskis Country has been inhabited for at least 8000 years

Archaeological evidence proves that there have been humans living in Kananaskis for over 8000 years. 

The Stoney-Nakoda, Siksika, Blood, and Kootenai First Nations all have deep connection to this land.

Kananaskis got it's name 150 years ago from explorer Captain John Palliser

Palliser chose to name the area Kananaskis after the Cree name "Kin-e-a-kis" - a warrior who survived after receiving a devastating blow to the head with an axe. The name is actually thought to mean "the meeting of the water". Palliser stumbled across the region as he travelled across the country, traveling by horse, cart, and canoe.

Staying warm in Kananaskis 

We decided to put our Men's winter shirts to the test and bring them out to Kananaskis for a short hike with the Rocky Mountain Flannel Company team. Needless to say, both our new Sherpa Lined Flannel Shirts and our 9 Ounce Brawny Flannel Shirts withstood the early winter cold. Check out our adventure below and shop the collection by simply clicking on the image. 

Blue Plaid Flannel Shirt Mens 9 ounce 

Mens Sherpa Lined Flannel Shirts

Mens Red Black Flannel Shirt 9oz Buffalo Check