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Divers

Adult red-throated diver swimming

Image: Chris Gomersall

A small family of large water birds, with three species regularly seen in the UK (two of which breed) plus one rare vagrant from northern Asia (the white-billed diver). There is another similar species (the Pacific loon) in North America. 

All have long, slender bodies, moderately long necks and dagger-shaped bills, quite long but narrow wings and small legs (with long, lobed toes) set far back on the body. 

They are expert swimmers and divers but unable to stand or walk on land. All are migratory, breeding on freshwater lakes and pools but moving to the sea coast in winter.

Black-throated diver

These streamlined diving birds sit low in the water and dive with consummate ease. On land they are clumsy, barely able to walk with their legs so far back on their bodies. They are easily disturbed ... More...

Black-throated diver

Great northern diver

The largest of the UK's divers, it has a bigger, heavier head and bill than its commoner relatives. It is largely a winter visitor to our shores although some non-breeding birds stay off northern coa... More...

Great northern diver

Red-throated diver

The smallest of the UK's divers, its grey-brown plumage and up-tilted bill readily distinguish it from the other species. In summer it has a distinctive red throat. They usually jump up to dive and ca... More...

Red-throated diver