Signs of the Season

     What is that one sound you look forward to as you try to fall asleep in your tent in the Boundary Waters? For me it’s the sound the loons make as they sing their songs. Unfortunately the last time I went camping two weekends ago we were not lulled to sleep by their music. 

     The loons depart the Boundary Waters each fall and many of the loons have already left. We did see one loon during a day trip but that was all we spotted. On a normal summer day we probably would have seen upwards of a dozen during a day trip.

     Most of the loons on Saganaga have left as well as the ones on Gull Lake. There is a momma and this year’s chick still swimming around Gull and we’re hoping the chick learns to fly before the snow does. The loss of our summer friends is just one of the signs of the season.

More about loons from the DNR-

Q: Although the loon is a bird, it differs from songbirds and waterfowl. How?

A: The bones of most birds are hollow and light in order to maximize the efficiency of flight; loons, however, adapted to life in the water, have several large 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.

– Kevin Woizeschke, DNR Nongame Wildlife specialist, Brainerd

Gull Lake chick from earlier this summer… Photo courtesy of our neighbor on Gull Lake Ritalee Walters-

BWCA loon