About the Common Loon Migration Study
(Back to Common
Loon Home Page)
Scientists say loons have been around for at least 20 million years, making them the oldest and most primitive
living bird. Since loons can hardly walk, they've spent most of that time in the water or in the air. Their feet
are set way back on their bodies--perfect for paddling but wobbly for walking. Loons can't take flight without
a long water runway so they're never found on small lakes or streams. They must run across the water beating their
wings and paddling their feet to gain enough speed to fly. There are stories of loons landing on wet pavement which
they've mistaken for deep water and then being unable to take off again!
Report the FIRST loon you see this spring
to Journey North!
Wintering and Breeding Range of the
Map by D. Bojar
Wanted: Have You Seen This Bird?
Loons migrate swiftly across the continent as the ice melts from inland lakes in the north. Without revealing the
secret to students, teachers might encourage them to track ice-out
along with this migration. A network of loon biologists will interact regularly with students as they track the
migration, and migration data from previous years will be provided. Thus, students will be able to compare and
contrast the timing of this spring's migration with those in previous years.
Photo: Dr. F.G. Irwin
In areas where there are lakes or other appropriate loon habitat, students are encouraged to learn how to identify
loons and go out and look for them. Use our Journey North Loon Identification
site to learn how loons sound as well as what they look like!
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