Red-throated diver

Red-throated Diver (summer-plumaged) and chick

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Red-throated diver

Scientific name: Gavia stellata
The red-throated diver lives up to its name - the distinctive red patch on its throat heralds the breeding season. In summer, it nests in Scotland, but look out for it around the UK's coast during winter.

Species information


Length: 61 cm
Wingspan: 1.1m
Weight: 1.6kg
Average lifespan: 9 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 5: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December


The red-throated diver is a large waterbird; it is larger than the great crested grebe, but smaller than the cormorant. Red-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 smallest of the divers, the red-throated diver has beautiful summer plumage, with a silky grey face and neck, and a red throat. In the winter, it turns a silvery-grey above and white underneath. It has a slightly upturned bill.


Nests in the far north of Scotland. Seen at sea mostly around the east coast in winter.

Did you know?

In Scotland, the red-throated diver is sometimes called the 'rain goose' because it is thought that it can predict the weather. Short cries are considered to indicate fine weather, but long, plaintive cries are a herald of wet weather.