MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On March 13, 1961, the common loon was adopted as Minnesota’s official state bird.

The loon, known for its exquisite diving skills and long yodel call, was actually not the first pick for many legislators.

In fact, prior to 1961, a handful of other birds were suggested, including the mourning dove, the pileated woodpecker, the scarlet tanager, and others, as described in the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

The loon was officially signed into law as our state bird by Gov. Elmer Lee Anderson.

Credit: Minnesota Historical Society & Serrao, J.

Since then, the loon has become an iconic symbol for our state, representing Minnesota’s great outdoors.

In fact, we have more loons here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes than any other state except Alaska.

Credit: Minnesota Historical Society & Kohls, Steve

And did you know that a loon can stay underwater for up to five minutes? Most birds have hollow bones, but the common loons’ are solid — allowing them to dive deep for prey.

But carrying that extra weight does have some consequences.

In order for a loon to fly, they need a 100-600 foot ‘runway’ to be able to take off from a lake, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Credit: Minnesota Historical Society

Each September, the birds head south for the winter, finding warmth in areas along the Atlantic coast.

And every spring when they return, their long yodel call reminds us that a new season is here.



Minnesota Historical Society

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library