Saturday, December 12, 2009

Common Loons

I heard their distant and haunting song just before the last holiday and I knew they had returned once again and brought winter with them.  I have read that the Ojibwa Indians said the loon song was an omen of death.  It has never seemed that sad to me.  It is a lovely piercing cry that carries far across the water and if it is an omen of death it sounds 'released.'  It  may sound like a lover calling that last passionate plea declaring love for his mate.  They fly all the way from Canada to winter here in my river.  Their torpedo shaped body disappears for great lengths of time beneath the surface of the river, reappearing hundreds of feet away to avoid a photo.  We now are getting dozens of them out in the middle of the river but very few near my shore.  Since they cannot walk well on land with their legs placed so far back, they were named the loon.  I have never seen one on land.  Although their average life span is 30 years, they have so many predators on land, water and in the sky, that it is a miracle they survive at all.  This photo (probably a female) is the best I got this year...thus far.


Hilary said...

So that's where my babies are! Aren't they just wonderful birds? Their calls (as they have several) are just beautiful.. especially when they call back and forth to find one another from a distance.

And the loony part is really apparent when they take off to fly. ;)

Tabor said...

Hilary, you are correct in that they do have a variety of calls.

Tom said...

I like the loons song. Anyway I can't figure out where I commented on your blog before. That is a great photo of those horses. From left to right they are Napples, brood mare extrodinaire, Ptesan, Napple's boyfriend, and Wahupa, Napple's son and model on the cover of my wife's book A Story of the West

Do you draw or paint?


Linda said...

I had a nose around and read through all the tales I've missed this week, from the flickers, through the leaf waltz, the marauding hordes, the eagle, hawk and loons. You really need to publish your wildlife tales, Tabor. The pictures are amazing and your insights and suppositions are just delightful! Thanks for sharing.
The loons arrival song was letting you know AUTUMN was in it's dying days. Ojibwa know. =D

Robert V. Sobczak said...

That's a tough life to have no safe haven, but their call must be as important to the landscape as the trees. Not to have them, or hear them, would give it a foreign feel. Non of our wading birds have musical calls, they are more in the line of a "squawk."

Kerry said...

I love the call of loons. It evokes the years I spent in northern Wisconsin and trips to Minnesota. Their call is like no other sound on this planet. I wish they wintered here in OR, but I guess it's a little too cold.