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About the Common Loon Migration Study

Please Report
the FIRST loon you see this spring to Journey North!

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!

Wintering and Breeding
Common Loon
(Gavia immer)

Wanted: Have You Seen This Bird?

Photo: Dr. F.G. Irwin

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 contribute the latest data and methods as they track the migration with students, 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.

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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