Looney Tunes

Common Loon

At Seney National Wildlife Preserve we saw lots of loons. This pictured loon was caring for a fledgling, bringing it minnows to eat. Another loon that we saw had a small chick that sometimes would ride on the parent’s back. Loons typically have only one or two chicks at a time. This is in marked contrast to the mergansers that we more frequently see and often have as many as a dozen chicks. While most birds have hollow bones, the bones of loons are solid like ours are. This added weight causes loons to ride lower in the water than most other waterfowl, but aids them in diving for underwater food.

Their extra weight also makes it difficult to takeoff. They cannot takeoff from land, but only from water. Years ago, Harry found a loon that was off on the side of road near the cabin. It was thought that on that hot summer day, the loon might have mistaken a mirage on the black asphalt for water and then landed there and became stuck. Harry and two other guys got a blanket and wrapped the stranded loon in it. By this time the bird was too exhausted to put up much of a fight. They carried their bundle down to the beach and released the loon into the lake. The water immediately revived the bird and it quickly swam away. For this feat Harry and his compadres earned the epitaph ‘The Loon Rangers’.  

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