It was a day for birding.
The temperature was 37° Fahrenheit.
The mister and I took a drive to Sooner Lake in northern Oklahoma. We saw the usual Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, Mallards, Coots, Cormorants, Scaups, and Gulls – plus a few Harriers. Oh yes, and one Canada Goose acting strange…swimming around with his neck level with the water and his head in the water…we had to watch it for a while to figure out what it was. And the ducks are definitely pairing up…lots of head bobbing & squabbles among the Buffleheads.
But the one surprise for the day came when we heard a Loon – even before we saw it. We watched it swim and dive for a while before we eventually saw it come up with a fish. And here was the kicker, that fish (possibly a Hybrid Striped Bass) was at least as big as the Loon’s head. The drizzle and fog did little to help me out with photography. The poor Loon wrestled that fish for at least 15-20 minutes – even stopping mid-way through to do a little wing-flap. Part way through the tussle, a gull checked in to see what was going on. The Loon finally gave up and went away hungry. But perhaps it learned a little something. ;-)
Here are a few Cool Facts about Loons from All About Birds.
- The Common Loon swims underwater to catch fish, propelling itself with its feet. It swallows most of its prey underwater. The loon has sharp, rearward-pointing projections on the roof of its mouth and tongue that help it keep a firm hold on slippery fish.
- 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.
- Loons are water birds, only going ashore to mate and incubate eggs. Their legs are placed far back on their bodies, allowing efficient swimming but only awkward movement on land.
- The Common Loon is flightless for a few weeks after molting all of its wing feathers at the same time in midwinter.
I can’t wait until the Loons come into full breeding colors. They’re such beautiful birds & their call is mesmerizing!