Raining Loons!

 

PATIENTSCommon Loons, #11-0344 and #11-0361

LOCATION OF RESCUE:  Augusta County

CIRCUMSTANCES OF ADMISSION:  Grounded, unable to take off from land

ADMISSION DATES: April 14, 2011 and April 16, 2011

OUTCOME:  Released April 15 and April 18

April showers bring ... loons?  The WCV veterinary team have had their hands full lately with two feisty Common Loons, admitted within two days of each other.  Fortunately, both patients were quickly treated and released.

On April 14, one mature Common Loon was rescued from a field in Lyndhurst, just a few miles from the Center.  Upon admission, the bird was bright and alert -- and very lively!  Dr. Kelly Flaminio did a full work-up on the loon,  including a thorough physical examination, a lead test, and radiographs.  The loon was uninjured, so some swimming time was scheduled to test the waterproofing of the bird's feathers. 

After a successful swim, Common Loon #11-0344 was released at Sherando Lake on April 15.  Check out the video of this loon's release on the WCV's YouTube channel!  Listen for the loon's "wail" around the one-minute mark.  This particular call is typically used by loons to locate and communicate with other loons.

Common Loon #11-0361 was admitted to the Center on April 16 -- an extremely rainy day in the Shenandoah Valley.  This bird was found in the western part of Augusta County and was observed swimming in a small waterlogged area next to a road.

This loon had some abrasions on its feet, though these injuries weren't serious.  Radiographs and a lead test revealed no further injuries; this bird also spent some time swimming in the hospital tub for a waterproof check.  On Monday, April 18, this loon was released at Sherando Lake by WCV supporters Holly Smith and Ann Shirley.

Common Loons are migrating right now -- probably one reason why the Center admitted a couple within just a few days of one another.  These birds winter along the U.S. coasts [both Atlantic and Pacific], and in mid-April begin the long trip back to their breeding grounds throughout Canada and Alaska.  While loons are expert divers, they are not built for life on land -- their legs sit so far back on their bodies that they actually move quite awkwardly when not in the water.

Loons are well-studied birds, as they are important indicators of aquatic health.  Their summer breeding habitat requires large lakes with clear water.  Loons are visual predators and need water clear enough to hunt for enough fish to feed their offspring.

Common Loon #11-0361 release photos by Ann Shirley.

The 50,000th patient admitted to the Wildlife Center -- in May 2008 -- was also a Common Loon.

About half of the 2,000+ patients admitted to the Wildlife Center each year are birds.  The Center depends on the donations of  generous individuals for the care provided to these “feathered friends”.  Please help!