common loon

“We are social animals. We like to feel a part of something of beauty and power that transcends our insignificance. It can be a religion, a political party, a ball club. Why not also Nature? I feel a strong identity with the world of living things. I was born into it; we all were. But we may not feel the ties unless we gain intimacy by seeing, feeling, smelling, touching and studying the natural world.” ― Bernd Heinrich, One Man’s Owl

Common loon. Northern Wisconsin.

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I grew up listening to this unbelievably haunting song. It is unique among birds and is very reminiscent of how whales communicate underwater. It is easily my favorite sound. This video was produced by Cornell University in Ithaca, NY which is (sort of) just south of the Adirondacks.

I was hiking around a cool northern lake early in the morning when this gorgeous common loon (Gavia immer) sailed into view. Loons are iconic birds of unpolluted northern lakes—but that’s just half their identity. In the winter they do the avian equivalent of changing from Superman to Clark Kent. Their plumage (and even eye color) becomes drab, and many of them head out to sea. That’s why loons need both healthy lakes and oceans to survive.