June 14, 2004


I'm not a really big fan of Loons.

But they are very popular. Over on the PLIA site, one of the recent member polls was "favorite lake bird?", and Loons won hands down (webbed-feet down?).

There are folks who invest a lot of time and money in admiring and protecting the Loons. And it's been successful. Like many bird types, the Loon population is nicely recovering from the near extinction of the DDT era.

But I've always found Loons to be kinda unexciting. I've never seen one flying. Their calls, to me, all sound either panicky or pissed off. And they just plain look like they're not having any fun.

This morning I was standing on the dock, drinking my coffee, when a Loon swam by. He was alternately looking left and right, then ducking his head under the water.

As I watched, he was joined by another full grown loon, and then a few minutes later, by a third. After a few minutes of what to me appeared to be some establishing of territorial supremacy, two of the birds did something I've never seen before.

One of them started flapping its wings and accellerating across the surface of the water. I thought it was gonna take flight, which would have been interesting enough. But, as it raced across the surface, flapping its wings and pushing along the surface with its feet, instead of lifting off, it suddenly stretched out its neck, tucked in its wings, extended it legs backward, and skimmed across the surface in its belly.

Like a kid on a slip-n-slide. It looked like fun. A few seconds later another of the three loons did the same thing.

Maybe this is just an effective, loon-ish, way to quickly move to a new location, but I prefer to think the the birds were having some fun too. And that elevates them just a little bit in my estimation.

[By the way, for those keeping track, I later saw a baby loon with one of these adults. I only saw one little one. It was furry, brown looking. It swam around the adult for a bit and then climbed onto its back, and under the feathers. I looked around and saw no sign of any other young loons.]

Posted by jackhodgson at June 14, 2004 10:56 AM