14 August 2013: Avian Haven Loon Update and about that dead loon from last summer…

img_2173__medium_I got an email update from Diane at Avian Haven today reporting that the loon they’re taking care of is showing signs of improvement and an added surprise- she was able to track down some information about the loon that turned up dead over by the shore by Hodsdon Lane last year in July (picture at left). I had mentioned to her that we’d found a dead loon and that it had been sent to Tufts University but we hadn’t heard back anything. At the time my State Wildlife Biologist friend Keel Kemper told me that Loon-on-Loon fighting was a common cause of loon mortality. It would appear that was the case with the bird from last summer.

George — I am happy to report that your loon lived the night and is showing slight improvement today.  She had refused fish yesterday afternoon, but ate quite readily this morning.  She is also spending more time in the water and less time on the haul-out.  She is still quite lethargic, preferring to drift quietly rather than swim around (much less dive),  but we are seeing some signs for the better, and are hopeful that they will continue. 

Re: the Clary Lake loon from last summer, I contacted the veterinarian who directs the loon mortality project at Tufts (http://www.tufts.edu/vet/loons/) and, on the assumption that Keel had put the carcass into the pipeline for the project, asked him if they had a record for a bird with that recovery date and location.  They did!  Summarizing the findings:  the bird’s death was due to trauma; given the nature of the wounds that were found during their necropsy  (bruising, punctures, internal hemorrhaging, etc.), their best guess was that this adult male had been the loser in a loon fight, after which he had been chased into the shallows, where he died after a couple of days.  I hope this information helps give you some closure.


The link she gave for the Tuft’s University Loon page is fantastic- I’ll be putting the link on our Links and Resources page. Incidentally, the Clary Lake Association Board has agreed to make a donation to Avian Haven as a token of our appreciation for their service. Since first hearing of them, a number of people have told me what a great job they’ve been doing.