Saranac Lake, NY – In the late afternoon of Sunday, December 3, the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation (ACLC) received a report of a Red-Throated Loon who was found grounded at Exit 38 on I-87. It was followed almost immediately after by a report of a second Red-Throated Loon who had landed on a road in Ausable. Then a third bird was found midday on Monday on Spruce Hill in Keene, NY.
These Red-Throated loons were migrating from their breeding waters in northern Canada and western Greenland to their wintering areas along Atlantic coast in such areas as Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. However, they encountered a storm producing more than a foot of heavy wet snow over just a couple of hours in eastern Essex and Clinton counties. Sometimes in winter storms, loons, like planes, experience icing of their wings and are unable to continue flying, so they land on roads, fields, and other unexpected places. Because of their specialized anatomy, loons are rarely able to get airborne if they are grounded, as they need to run on the water to take off.
All three loons received a physical examination by Dr. Nina Schoch, a wildlife veterinarian and Executive Director of the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation. They were all in good condition, and so were banded and released on Lake Champlain by staff from the Adirondack Loon Center. The Loon Center is most grateful to North Country Wild Care, , and the concerned citizens who found and transported the grounded Red-Throated Loons.
“Red-Throated Loons are much smaller than the Common Loons who summer on Adirondack lakes,” said Dr. Schoch. “We rescue a grounded Red-Throated Loon almost every winter. They are such beautiful, almost dainty loons – it’s a wonderful opportunity to see these northern birds when they fly through eastern New York.”
In winter plumage, Red-Throated Loons have white necks instead of vibrant red throats during the breeding season. Their scientific name “Gavia stellata” reflects the pattern of starry “V” shaped white flecks on their backs during the winter. Their vocalizations are quite different from those of Common Loons, producing a quacking/grunting noise instead of the wails and tremolos associated with the Common Loons.
The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is a 501(c)3 non-profit that conducts scientific research and engaging educational programming to inspire passion for and promote the conservation of Adirondack loons, a sentinel of the environment.
The Adirondack Loon Center located at 75 Main Street in Saranac Lake is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Photo at top: Susan Harry, ACLC Philanthropy Director, and Griffin Archambault, ACLC Research Biologist, release a Red-throated Loon on the shore of Lake Champlain. Photo Credit: Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation.