I got a phone call today while making lunch that made me turn down the radio and ask if I’d really heard what I thought I heard. Jack Holland called to tell me that his son Taylor and a friend had found a loon that had been “hit by a car” somewhere over by the State boat launch. I grabbed my camera and headed over but I was looking for someone with an injured loon on the side of the road, not a concrete forms truck parked in the driveway leading to Clary Knoll Farm. I should have stopped to ask because that was them. Jack called me again and confirmed that was them so I headed back over and found they had just made the hand off to some volunteers from Avian Haven, a wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom. The bird had been found sitting in Route 215 near the end of the Sennott Road.
I spoke briefly to the people who had come to pick up the bird but they had already put it in the back of the car and obviously wanted to get going. They told me to contact Avian Haven. I did when I got home, sending them an email. I received the following response a bit ago:
Hi George. Thanks for contacting us.
We cannot determine whether the loon was car hit, but see no evidence of an impact injury and agree that a vehicle strike would be unusual. Loons sometimes apparently mistake wet pavement for a waterway and land on roads in foggy, rainy weather, but I believe the conditions would have been dry and mostly clear at the time the bird came down. We found no obvious injuries; a quick x-ray reveals no fractures and no lead fishing gear in the GI tract. There is an abrasion on one wrist but it is not recent. The blood on the road and on the bird’s abdomen seems to have come from a minor abrasion on the foot. Of course there may be internal or soft tissue injuries that do not show up externally or on an x-ray.
The thing of most concern is that basic blood work reveals an overall debilitation. This is not an acute condition, however; it would have taken a period of time for things to have deteriorated to this point. One guess about today’s situation is that she had tried to leave wherever she had been (one of the nearby lakes?) but was too weak to make it to wherever she’d hoped to go, and crash landed on what happened to be Rt. 215.
For the moment, we are focused on supportive care; she is lethargic and sluggish – way too easy to handle for an adult loon. I’m attaching a photo of her resting on the haul-out of one of the pools in our aquatic bird facility (http://www.avianhaven.org/
I’ve put the photo Diane sent in the Summer 2013 album. Loons can get injured and die in various ways, but getting hit by a car is not one you usually think of. Diane’s speculation about the bird’s condition makes perfect sense- and is concerning. Most likely the loon was flying up out of Three Corner Pond (a steep climb if they were heading up and over Clary Knoll Farm) on it’s way over to Clary when it pooped out and crash landed on the road.
I especially want to thank Taylor Holland and his friend for stopping to tend to the bird and waiting as long as they did for someone to get there. I’ll follow up with the folks at Avian Haven and let you know how this turns out.