The Minnesota State Bird

     I haven’t seen or heard a loon recently and I don’t plan on seeing one anytime soon.  I did however find some information about loons and I thought I would share it with you.

     The bones of most birds are hollow and light; however, loons have some solid bones that make diving easier but flying more difficult.  This extra weight enables them to dive deep- in excess of 100 feet- to search for food.  Once underwater loons can remain there for several minutes.  Even though loons are capable of diving deep and for long periods, most dives are shallower and shorter.  Because their bodies are heavy relative to their wing size, loons need a runway of 60 or more feet in order to take off from a lake.  When airborne loons can fly more than 75 miles per hour.  Another unique characteristic of a loon is its legs.  These extremities are set far back on its body, which means a loon cannot walk like other birds.  If on dry land, a loon must push itself along on its chest.

Pam Perry, DNR nongame wildlife specialist, Brainerd, MN