In the late afternoon of Sunday, December 3rd, the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation received a report of a Red-throated Loon who was found grounded at Exit 38 on I-87 (the Adirondack Northway).
These Red-throated loons were migrating from their breeding waters in northern Canada and western Greenland to their wintering areas along Atlantic coast in such areas as Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. However, they encountered a storm producing more than a foot of heavy wet snow over just a couple of hours in parts of Essex and Clinton counties.
Sometimes in winter storms, loons, like planes, experience icing of their wings and are unable to continue flying, so they land on roads, fields, and other unexpected places. Because of their specialized anatomy, loons are rarely able to get airborne if they are grounded, as they need to run on the water to take off.
All three loons received a physical examination by Dr. Nina Schoch, a wildlife veterinarian and Executive Director of the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation. They were all in good condition, and so were banded and released on Lake Champlain by staff from the Adirondack Loon Center.
In an announcement sent to the press, the Loon Center thanked North Country Wild Care and the concerned citizens who found and transported the grounded Red-Throated Loons.
“Red-throated Loons are much smaller than the Common Loons who summer on Adirondack lakes,” said Dr. Schoch. “We rescue a grounded Red-throated Loon almost every winter. They are such beautiful, almost dainty loons – it’s a wonderful opportunity to see these northern birds when they fly through eastern New York.”
In winter plumage, Red-throated Loons have white necks instead of vibrant red throats during the breeding season. Their scientific name, Gavia stellata, reflects the pattern of starry “V” shaped white flecks on their backs during the winter.
Their vocalizations are quite different from those of Common Loons, producing a quacking/grunting noise instead of the wails and tremolos associated with the Common Loons. You can hear red-throated loon vocalizations here.
To report a loon in distress, contact the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation by calling (518)354- 8636 and email a photo of the loon to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is a 501(c)3 non-profit that conducts scientific research and engaging educational programming to inspire passion for and promote the conservation of Adirondack loons.
To learn more about the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and its loon conservation efforts, visit www.adkloon.org or www.facebook.com/adkloon, email the Loon Center at email@example.com, or call (518) 354-8636.
The Adirondack Loon Center at 75 Main in Saranac Lake is open from 11 am to 5 pm on Tuesdays, and from 10 am to 5 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays.
New York Almanack regularly reports on wildlife rescues.
Photos, from above: An adult red-throated loon in non-breeding plumage showing speckled back which gives the bird its name Gavia stellata (courtesy wikimedia user Peter Massas); one of the rescued Red-throated Loons waiting to be banded prior to release (provided by Loon Center); Susan Harry, ACLC Philanthropy Director, and Griffin Archambault, ACLC Research Biologist, release one of the rescued loons on the shore of Lake Champlain (Loon Center).