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Common Loon
Loons have an uncanny ability to arrive immediately after ice-out. Scientists suspect they make exploratory flights from the nearest open water, moving closer and closer to their nesting destination. They have been seen checking a lake several days before it opens up. Loons must be careful not to arrive too early because they could get trapped if the lake refreezes. They need an open-water runway of up to 1/4 mile so they can run across the water to take flight.

"The ice went out on Smith Lake in Garrison overnight on Sunday/Monday. It was partially out on Sunday, April 27th. It was very windy and went out fast (by Monday morning). Loons were already on the lake on Monday, too." S.S. Garrison, Minnesota

Image by Ken Orich at Payne Lake Provincial Recreation Area near  Mountain View, Alberta    April 24, 2014
Common Loon

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