Project Chekov: Loon

Finally, we get to head back into the water to see our latest featured bird and NEW bird list check mark! This particular subject is often related to Canada seeing as how they chose to use this cool bird on their dollar coin commonly referred to as, yes, the Loonie. This by the way happens to be my favorite coin – I think there would have been better uptake of our failed dollar coin if they had bothered to design it after the Loonie as opposed to having everyone confuse it with a slightly larger quarter.  But money isn’t the topic for today’s post, but the Common Loon is!

Now I happen to really like the looks of this bird – long, sleek and deadly in the water.  According to our friends over at Wikipedia, this bird is so cool it has more than one name with the other being Great Northern Loon.  I actually thought this particular bird was taken at Devil’s Lake up by Baraboo, Wisconsin back in July 2012.  However, when I went back to confirm that it looks to be taken in the Porcupine Mountains instead.   One thing for sure, I wasn’t able to get too close to it having to rely on the reach of The Beast just to get a decent shot of him.  Check that, it may be a him or a her since plumage of the two sexes is similar.    As mentioned, they are extraordinary divers and underwater swimmers capable of chasing down their prey (primarily fish) and either skewering or grabbing it with that dagger of a  bill.  As you can tell from the pictures, they lay low in the water paddling with their webbed feet until they spot a fish and quickly dive under the water (splashless).

Their legs are actually located relatively far back on their body which contributes to the efficiency in the water, but makes it difficult for them to maneuver on land.  They prefer to spend as much time in the water as they can, only coming out when it is time to nest.  This awkward movement on land is how it acquired its name from the word lumme/lum which derives into lummox/awkward/clumsy.   I never had the chance to experience this land difficulty or for that matter see them in the air so unable to provide a firsthand account of their abilities there.  It did look quite graceful on the water.

Interesting enough, they are unable to take flight from land instead requiring them to swim against the wind to gain lift for their large frame.  Once in the air they are considered quite capable.  Looks like they are aggressive if a predator invades its space or has the audacity (a few more times and it will lose the socialist stigma) to come near their nests – that is when that dagger is pressed into action.  Not much else to really say about this bird other than I am looking forward to the when I can get closer shots (although pleased I was able to get my signature composition of head turned across the body).  Oh, one late tidbit – they are the State Bird of Minnesota in case you happen to be asked that at some trivia event (you can thank me later hehehe).

Have a good one – I’m heading to bed

6 thoughts on “Project Chekov: Loon”

  1. You know, the Loon was always a poster child of endangered birds, but you don’t hear much about that anymore so maybe their status improved a lot.

    Two other interesting facts:

    – Migrating Common Loons occasionally land on wet highways or parking lots, mistaking them for rivers and lakes. They become stranded without a considerable amount of open water for a long takeoff. A loon may also get stranded on a pond that is too small.

    – The oldest-known Common Loon lived at least 24 years, 1 month, spending its summers on a lake in Michigan.

    I think I recall reading about the interesting sounds they make, but then again I may be mistaken. Yes, I just looked it up. “After sundown, many North Woods lakes reverberate with the echoes of loon wails and yodels and tremolos (which writer John McPhee called “the laugh of the deeply insane”).” Clown laughs.

    Here you go: If you want to hear some of the scariest sounds you’ll ever encounter, listen to the audio samples on this page:




  2. Seriously .. you want me to go listen to sounds clips of a bird that sounds like CLOWN LAUGHS? seriously? I literally just gave a talk to my division detailing my suffrage from Coulrophobia… and you want me to go and listen to the laugh of a deeply insane clown? Wow, if you had not just given me some interesting new facts about the Loon I probably would have banned your comments for a month, so that was close.


  3. I know exactly what it sounds like and I’ve heard a tight portion of it live (it stopped as soon as it saw me) and it sounds like one of those laughing clown jack in the boxes on a spring …. and NO I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR IT AGAIN because I have enough trouble sleeping as it is.. oh, remind me to send you a slide from a deck I presented at work recently – I used your Gacy picture you sent me from Florida


  4. Looooong story, but you will appreciate the work I had to go through to get your picture to fit my vision.. err. explanation of my “condition”


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