Great Northern Diver

Great Northern Diver

Scientific name: Gavia immer

Did you know: The Great Northern Diver, known for its haunting calls and exceptional diving skills, was once a source of fat used as a remedy for sciatica in Scotland.

What Do Great Northern Divers Look Like? (how to identify them)

The Great Northern Diver, the largest of the UK’s divers, stands out with its hefty head and bill. Adults divers in breeding plumage display black-coloured backs with white spots, a glossy black head, and a necklace-like pattern on the neck. 

Their bill is stark black, deep red eyes, and their legs are dark. In winter, they transition to a brownish-grey upper body with a white underbelly. Juveniles resemble adults in non-breeding plumage but with additional buffy scales on their upper parts.

Differences Between Male And Female Great Northern Divers

Males and females are similar in appearance, though males are generally larger and heavier.

What Do Great Northern Divers Eat?

Their diet primarily consists of fish and crustaceans. They are adept hunters, diving deep underwater to catch their prey, which they usually consume right there in the aquatic depths.

Where Do Great Northern Divers Live? (inc. migration info)

Great Northern Divers are mainly winter visitors to the UK, frequenting shallow coastal waters. They start arriving in the UK around October and November and return to their breeding grounds in Iceland and other parts of the Nearctic region in April. 

Some non-breeding birds remain off northern UK coasts during the summer.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Great Northern Divers)

Great Northern Divers are known for their distinctive calls which include eerie yodels, tremolos, and wails. These sounds vary in intensity and are used for communication and territorial defence.

Fun Great Northern Diver Facts (kid friendly)

  • They can dive as deep as 60 metres to catch fish.
  • Travel from their breeding grounds in Iceland to winter in the UK.
  • Known for their haunting and melodious vocalisations.
  • They have a wingspan of up to 147 cm.
  • Catch most of their food by skillful diving.
  • Their eyes turn a striking red in the breeding season.
  • Carry their chicks on their backs for safety.
  • Once used in folk medicine in Scotland.

Facts About The Great Northern Diver

Diet: Fish and crustaceans.
Bird Family: Divers
Length: 70-90 cm
Wingspan: 127-147 cm
Weight: 3.6 to 4.5 kg
Scientific Name: Gavia immer

The Great Northern Diver Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Great Northern Diver Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile