Gaviidae - Divers
With their almost reptilian looks, divers look as though they ought to be primitive birds. Many of their morphological features support this view, for example, their feathers have quite a simple structure, lacking the interlocking barbules of more recently evolved species. However, recent studies have suggested that they are in fact relatively recent in evolutionary terms, hence they are no longer listed at the beginning of bird books. They are a small group of birds and all share the same basic streamlined shape with a long neck ideally suited to a marine life chasing fish. Their feet are set unusually far back on their body, making them powerful swimmers but rather ungainly on land. All are found in northern climes, where they have a striking breeding dress, though some move southwards in winter when they don more sober colours being blackish above and whitish below.
The commonest species in Britain is the Red-throated Diver which breeds in north and west Scotland and winters around our coasts.
Regularly Occurring Species
Scotland's winter visitors: why and how do they migrate?
From geese and swans to thrushes and warblers, discover the secrets of our winter birds' migration.