The afternoon of Valentine’s Day, we received a report of 3 loons iced-in a small puddle near the west shore of Lake George, with an eagle sitting on the edge of the ice. Apparently a 4th loon had already met its demise, so it was important to rescue these trapped birds as soon as possible. Being late in the day, it was decided to attempt the rescue the following morning.
That area of the lake had just frozen in the previous week with a couple of days of below-zero temps, so the loons were trapped by quickly forming ice. We’ve had a relatively mild winter, thus some loons had wintered over on Lakes Champlain and George.
At this time of year, loons are molting out of their winter plumage and into their black and white breeding plumage. They also completely lose their flight feathers, so they are flightless for about a month until the new ones grow in. Thus, they can easily become trapped in a small pool of water if the ice forms quickly.