Audubon Centennial Edition – The Birds of America

Divers of Lakes and Bays, Wanderers of Seas and Coasts
Plate: 431
American Flamingo
Plate: 311
American White Pelican
Plate: 346
Black-throated Diver
Plate: 307
Blue Crane or Heron
Plate: 251
Brown Pelican
Plate: 421
Brown Pelican
Plate: 252
Florida Cormorant
Plate: 387
Glossy Ibis
Plate: 211
Great Blue Heron
 1    2    3   ..  29     >   
Artic Loon
Havell Name   Havell Plate No.   Paper Size
Black-throated Diver 346 28" x 39"
Common Name Price Image Size
Artic Loon $ 1,200 26" x 38"


Ornithological Biography
One of the most remarkable circumstances relative to this beautiful bird, which is intermediate between the Red-throated Diver and the Loon, is the extraordinary extent to which the wanderings of the young are carried in autumn and winter. It breeds in the remote regions of the north, from which many of the old birds, it would seem, do not remove far, while the young, as soon as they are able to travel, take to wing and disperse, spreading not only over the greater part of the United States, but beyond their south-western limits. In Texas I saw individuals of this species as late as the middle of April 1837; and I find it enumerated in a list of the birds observed by Mr. J. K. TOWNSEND on the Columbia river, where he also met with Colymbus glacialis. Its ramblings over a considerable portion of northern and eastern Europe have equally been noted, and it has been found breeding in the extreme north of Scotland.

For many years I knew the young of this bird only by the name “Imber Diver,” applied by BEWICK to that of another species, and now have pleasure in looking upon a drawing of mine, made about thirty years ago, with that appellation attached to it. Very few old birds in full plumage have been procured within the limits of the United States, and none, in as far as I know, farther south than the Capes of Delaware.

No sooner has the foliage of the trees that border our western waters begun to drop and float on the gentle current of the fair Ohio, than the Black-throated Diver makes its appearance there, moving slowly with the stream. The Mississippi, Missouri, and their tributaries, are at the same period supplied with these birds. Along our eastern and southern shores they are seen from the end of autumn until spring.

Whilst in Labrador, I saw a few pairs courting on wing, much in the manner of the Red-throated Diver; but all our exertions failed to procure any of the nests, which I therefore think must have been placed farther inland than those of the Loon or Red-throated Diver. I observed however, that in their general habits they greatly resemble those species, for on alighting on the water, they at once immerse their bills, as if for the purpose of ascertaining whether it yields a supply of suitable food, and afterwards raise themselves and beat their wings.

This species has almost as powerful a flight as the Great Northern Diver or Loon, and I think shoots through the air with even greater velocity. When flying it moves its wings rapidly and continuously, and has the neck and feet stretched out to their full length. I well recollect that while I was standing near the shore of a large inlet in South Carolina, one of these birds, being shot while passing over my head at full speed, did not, on account of the impetus, reach the ground until upwards of twenty yards beyond me. They are equally expert at diving, and fully as much so in eluding the pursuit of their enemies when wounded. I saw my friend Mr. HARRIS bring down one from on wing, on which NAPOLEON COSTE, and WILLIAM TAYLOR, captains of the revenue cutter and tender of which we had the use, paddled in pursuit of it in a light canoe; but, although they advanced with all the address of Indians, they proved unsuccessful, for after following it both in the Bay of Cayo Island, and in the Gulf of Mexico, for nearly an hour, they were obliged to return without it, having found it apparently not in the least fatigued, although it had dived sufficiently often to travel above two miles, shifting its course at each immersion. It is curious to observe how carefully these birds avoid the danger of sudden storms or heavy gales. On such occasions, I have seen Divers at once seek the lee of rocks, islands, or artificial embankments, where they could not only remain in security, but also procure their accustomed food. At other times, when striving against the tempest, they dive headlong from on wing, and are sure to reappear in the smooth parts which sailors term the trough.

I once caught one of these birds on the Ohio, it having been incapacitated from diving by having swallowed a large mussel, which stuck in its throat. It was kept for several days, but refused food of every kind, exhibited much bad humour, struck with its bill, and died of inanition. The food of this species consists of fish, aquatic reptiles, testaceous mollusca, and all sorts of small crustaceous animals. Its flesh resembles that of the Loon, and is equally unfit to be eaten.

The eggs, which are sometimes two, more frequently three, average three inches in length, by two in their greatest breadth, which is about a third of the whole length distant from the extremity. Their form is that of the Red-throated Diver, which however they exceed in size. The shell is rather thick, the surface roughish, the ground colour chocolate tinged with olive, sparingly spotted at the larger end with very dark umber and black, and sprinkled all over with very small dots of the same colour.

I have represented an adult male, a female, and a young bird.

COLYMBUS ARCTICUS, Bonap. Syn., p. 420.

COLYMBUS ARCTICUS, Black-throated Diver, Swains. and Rich. F. Bor. Amer.,vol. ii. p. 475.

BLACK-THROATED DIVER, Nutt. Man., vol. ii. p. 517.

BLACK-THROATED DIVER, Colymbus arcticus, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iv. p. 345. Male, 29, 39 1/2.

The young range throughout the interior and along the coast as far as Texas, in autumn and winter. Adult in full plumage very rare. Breeds in high latitudes. Columbia river.

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