Sep 04 2008
Common loons breed on northern lakes and winter at the ocean. Acadia National Park has both lakes and ocean so it’s a great place to see them, especially since they’re migrating right now.
At this time of year most of them are still in the beautiful breeding plumage shown here.
Loons eat only fish so they’re an early indicator of water quality problems. Sadly, this means they die of avian botulism on the Great Lakes and slowly succumb to mercury poisoning deposited in our water by coal-fired power plant emissions.
Truly a water bird, loons can barely walk on land because their legs are positioned for diving. Occasionally they mistake a wet road or parking lot for a lake and land on it, but if they do they can’t take off again because they need a long watery runway. A loon in this situation must be rescued or it will die.
Years ago during fall migration, a loon landed on top of Laurel Mountain in Somerset County, Pennsylvania and was found in the woods by a hunter. The hunter took it to a vet who released it on a nearby lake. That was one lucky bird.
All’s well that ends well.
(photo by Kim Steininger)