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10 remarkable Arctic birds

By: Roni Robbins on Dec. 20, 2012, 4:27 p.m.
yellow-billed loon in water

Photo: Tom Walker/Getty Images

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Yellow-billed loon

The largest species of loon, this bird sports a light yellow bill — thus the name — with striking white spots on a black background. During the non-breeding season, it's much less noticeable because it molts to a light brown color.

"They're eye-catchingly beautiful,” Senner said. “They are also incredible vocalists, with their songs and displays often audible for miles around."

While they're nesting in the summer, yellow-billed loons are quite vocal. Their calls can sound like laughing or yodeling during the day and like crying at night. During the winter, however, the birds don't make a lot of noise.

They mostly migrate to Asia, with recent research showing many Alaskan nesting yellow-billed loons spending the winter off the coast of Japan, Senner said.