Loons Haunting Calls

November 27, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Visitors to northern-hemisphere lakes often hear loons (known as divers in Europe and Asia). Most of the 5 loon species make haunting, wailing calls that, once heard, are difficult to forget.

Loons are among the best of the diving birds. They can dive up to 75m underwater, hunting for fish. They can stay under for up to 8 minutes.

Loons aren’t the most graceful creatures out of the water, however. Their feet are set far back on their bodies, making walking difficult. On land, loons often prefer to scoot along on their bellies. Also, when taking off, loons need a long runway of open water, in order to get up enough speed to get their heavy bodies airborne.

Loons build their nests close to water, in boreal and arctic lakes. Conservationists are concerned about loons, since many loon nests have failed in recent decades. Acid rain reduced the fish supply in many of their nesting lakes. Also, persistent boat traffic can spook parents off their nests, or create waves that swamp the nests.

Luckily, loons are not currently endangered. With more public awareness and better regulations on industrial pollution, we may still get to hear the loon’s memorable, haunting calls.

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