[Chukotka, Russia, June 2011] There’s no bird that defines arctic wilderness like the Yellow-billed loon. Pairs stake out large fish-bearing lakes for the brief summers. And slip with ease beneath the icy waters to pursue their prey. Above the water, their physical appearance is immaculate and imposing. They are big and broad with an intricate black and white plumage pattern. They have inquisitive red eyes and a yellow beak like a dagger for catching fish. They were built for a life spent almost entirely on the water. And all of their movements are perfectly choreographed for their aquatic world. The voices of loons breaking the crisp arctic air seem as primeval as the land itself. An intruding loon had passed overhead and the pair was announcing its territory to any loons within miles. Afterwards, the pair foraged along the ice edge, periodically resting and stretching their enormous webbed feet, one of which would be tucked neatly under a wing to keep warm when not in use. [Produced by Gerrit Vyn]

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Known by its yellow dagger-shaped beak, red eyes, and intricate black-and-white plumage, the Yellow-billed Loon is often found in the icy waters of cold, arctic habitats. To protect its extremities from the frigid water, the Yellow-billed Loon tucks one webbed foot under its wing, and alternates between feet periodically. It looks odd, but anyone who has ever dipped bare feet into icy water will relate.

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