Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Immature Common Loon

The common loon is the Minnesota State Bird. The reason that the loon was chosen to represent Minnesota is because Minnesota has more nesting loons then any other state in the US other then Alaska, approximately 12,000 birds. Minnesota also has the highest population of bald eagles of any state except Alaska. The reason why both loons and eagles are prevalent in Minnesota is because of the abundance of suitable habitat.
Loons are built for life in the water, something Minnesota has plenty of. Unlike most other birds their bones are solid, instead of hollow, the extra weight helps them to dive down to depths of over 200 feet below the surface of the water. This, combined with their aerodynamic, torpedo like, shape and their glowing red eyes, which give them excellent vision when they are underwater, help them to hunt fish, although they will also eat frogs, crayfish leeches and other aquatic invertebrates.
Solid bones help the loon in the water however they are somewhat of a hindrance for flight. Loons need a lot of space in order to get enough speed to get up into the air. The required length of the "runway" can be from 100 to over 500 feet which is why loons sometimes get themselves trapped on a small ponds. Loons can swim with in a day after hatching but it takes almost two months before they can make their way up into the air. This young loon was working on its take off in preparation for the coming fall migration, when loons leave the interior of North America and head to their wintering grounds on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts.

10 comments:

KaHolly said...

Great information about the loons. Maine has an awesome brochure to educate the public about loons - if you are interested, check with the Maine Audobun Society. Or, e-mail me your address, and I'll slip one into the mail for you. ~karen

Birgitta "foto CHIP" said...

Very interesting but how difficult for them to take off - I feel a bit pity for them and dont want them to be trapped in e small pond.

http://foto.rudenius.se/post/2010/08/03/Watery-Wednesday-Tisza.aspx

Greyscale Territory said...

These are fascinating birds! Love your photos and information!

A and Y Ikeda said...

what a sweet and determined young bird. Wonderful photos!

Judy said...

I love watching them try to take off! Thanks for the stills, showing the different wing positions.

J Bar said...

Great series of water shots.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

JOE TODD said...

Love the loons. We saw a few in Canada a week ago

Shey said...

Awesome captures of "take-off" flight. I love watching them. :)

Pamela Fillhouer said...

love it as i am from MN also :)

2sweetnsaxy said...

Wow! Great action shots. I see these everyone once in a while. Still haven't got a shot this nice.