Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer) Information


Great Northern Diver is one of the Largest and generally least numerous of the three divers. Size often confusing at sea, but large, angular head and heavy bill distinguish at all seasons. In summer, black head and neck, broken only by a narrow oval of strips on the neck. Chequered back pattern more clear-cut than Black-throated. In winter, darker above than Red-throated, but scaly back pattern produces a paler effect than Black-throated. In great northern diver, the dark crown does not enclose eye. In-flight, wingbeats slower than the smaller divers.

Status:  Great Northern diver has bred and regularly summers in northern Scotland. Winter visitor to most coasts; more regular in north and west.

Similar Species: Angular crown and mottled upperparts distinguish great northern diver from winter Black-throated diver.

Great Northern Divers Facts (Size and Habitat)

Typeduck-like, goose-like
Size69-81 cm (30 in.)
Habitatfreshwater, sea
behaviourswims, dives from surface, takes off and lands on water
Flockingsummer solitary; small flocks winter
Flightstrong and powerful; direct
Voicesummer – loud wails, cackling laugh;  winter – occasional croaks, moans

Bird Identification


Upperpartsbalck and white, two chequered ovals
Tailblack; short and pointed
Billblack; straight and pointed
Legsblack; short
Ad.winterbrown above, white below
Juvenileas Ad.winter, speckly black

Great Northern Diver Breeding

Nestscrape at water’s edge
Eggs2; olive-brown, blackish spots
Incubation29-30 days
Youngactive downy
Fledging12 weeks
Broods1, May-September
Foodfish, amphibians
Population3500+ winter

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