05 September 2013: The loon being cared for at Avian Haven didn’t make it :(


Back on August 14th I posted about a loon that had crash-landed on Route 215. Taylor Holland found it and arranged for it to be delivered to Avian Haven up in Freedom. I emailed Diane at Avian Haven yesterday to follow up on the loon, and today I received the following email. Sadly, whatever had been ailing the bird turned out to be fatal:

Hey, George.  Funny you should ask – you were on my list to contact today. I’m sad to say that the loon died Tuesday night.  Throughout his stay here I kept hoping there would be some optimistic update I could send, and I postponed getting in touch when there was little if anything positive to report.

I’d consulted with two wildlife veterinarians in other states who specialize in loons; on the basis of x-rays I sent, there was agreement that your bird likely had an untreatable fungal infestation of the respiratory system.   You might recall that the initial blood work suggested an overall debilitated state; those parameters improved slightly for a while with supportive care and readily-available food.

Unfortunately, that little improvement was short-lived, and was followed by a downhill trajectory despite our interventions.  Toward the end, the bird was unwilling to stay in water for even a few minutes.  A plausible scenario is that some chronic disease process, again most likely fungal, rendered the bird too weak to complete whatever journey he was trying to make when he came down in Jefferson.  The care we provided temporarily relieved some of that debilitation, but not the underlying problem, which ultimately got the upper hand. 

The bird’s remains will go to Tufts and become part of the ongoing loon mortality study there.  The veterinarian who will do the necropsy, Dr. Pokras, is one of the two I consulted; I’ve included with our complete case notes a note requesting that he notify us of the results as soon as they are available; I will then let you know.

I regret so much that this bird could not be saved; I know how much it would have meant to the association.  But at least the bird was given a second chance, and was kept safe and comfortable throughout the process.  I know you’ll agree that these are gifts worth giving.


I look forward to hearing the results of the necropsy.