Black-throated diver

Black-throated Diver

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Black-throated diver

Scientific name: Gavia arctica
The streamlined black-throated diver is a superb swimmer and diver, but not so graceful on land! During the summer, the distinctive black patch on its throat appears, heralding the breeding season.

Species information


Length: 66cm
Wingspan: 1.2m
Weight: 2.3-3.4kg
Average lifespan: 12 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

January to December


The black-throated diver is a large waterbird; it is larger than the Great Crested Grebe, but smaller than the Cormorant. black-throated divers nest on small pools and lochs, moving to the coast in winter, where they feed on fish. It sometimes turns up on big lakes and reservoirs.

How to identify

The black-throated diver looks smart in its summer plumage, with a black throat, silky grey head and neck, and a black-and-white-chequered back. In the winter, it turns a very dark grey above and white below, with an obvious white patch on its rear flanks. It has a straight, dagger-like bill.


Nests in the far north of Scotland. Seen at sea around most coasts in winter.

Did you know?

The black-throated diver is known in America as the 'Arctic Loon'. It can fish at depths of up to six metres, but usually only stays underwater for a minute or so.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a Living Seas vision, where coastal and marine wildlife thrives alongside the sustainable use of the ocean's resources. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.