Red-throated Diver

Gavia stellata

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This specimen of a red-throated diver displays its basic plumage. It looks like it is covered with small stars. Hence its German and scientific name Sterntaucher (literally: "star-diver"). When wearing its basic plumage or as a juvenile, the red-throated diver can mainly be confused with the black-throated diver. In its adult plumage, however, the red-throated diver can be easily identified: the iris is reddish, the back and wings are brown-grey, the head is uniformly light grey, the hind neck is finely streaked with black and white and a distinct reddish-brown-orange spot is visible on the fore neck. These excellent, streamlined swimmers and divers, unlike geese or ducks, land with their breasts on the water, not with their feet. Red-throated divers only go ashore during the breeding season, where they move about awkwardly on account of their body shape, which is adapted to aquatic life. It is a monogamous species that forms long-term pair bonds and often uses the same breeding site for several years. The nest consists of a depression in the ground (scrape nest), which is upholstered with vegetation. Usually, the clutch comprises 2 eggs, which are incubated for about 25 to 30 days. The chicks have a downy natal plumage, are nidifugous and are raised by both parents. They always breed near water, usually in standing inland waters, also near small ponds, with little or no fish, although this is their main source of food. That is why red-throated divers can be seen on their fast, straight flight to the sea or larger lakes in search of nutrition. Red-throated divers typically breed in Scandinavia, Northern Europe and Siberia. As short and medium-distance migrants, they mainly stopover and winter at sea and thus can be observed in Germany on the North Sea (German Bight) and Baltic Sea coasts and larger inland waters.

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