The roughly three-year-old bird was contained in a small area of open water on Follensby Clear Pond near Upper Saranac Lake. The ice was an estimated five inches thick, and the bird had become trapped while it waited for its winter flight feathers to grow in. The bird had kept the water open through its movements.
Inlet resident Gary Lee netted the bird while standing in a canoe at the edge of the hole Wednesday morning. “Quickest catch that I ever made because it had such a small hole,” Lee said afterward. “He didn’t have that much room to fight me or get away from me.”
Dr. Nina Schoch, Coordinator of BRI’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation in Saranac Lake and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and veterinarian, transported the bird to Lake Champlain, where it was released into open water. “It’s was in good health and alert,” Schoch said in a statement issued after the resscue. “Once its wing feathers grow back in, the bird should be able to continue its migration.”
Schoch became aware of the bird on Monday after a member of the public reported it to the Adirondack Loon Center in Saranac Lake. Staff monitored the bird for two days and decided to give it a helping hand on Wednesday.
The Adirondack Loon Center reminds people that attempting a rescue of an iced-in loon is very dangerous due to the thin ice that surrounds the small amount of open water where the bird is swimming. Such rescues should be conducted only by people with both ice rescue and loon handling experience. Significant precautions are taken to prevent the need for human rescue, as well.
Photos by Mike Lynch: Above, Gary Lee; Nina Schoch; and the rescued loon.