A Loon Fallout is even more dramatic than it sounds…
A Loon Fallout occurs when atmospheric conditions are such that the migrating loons develop ice on their body as they fly at high altitudes and crash land when they are no longer able to fly due to the weight of the ice on their body or the interference with their flight ability. The Raptor Education Group Inc. (REGI) adds that the current ice/rain and unstable air currents are a perfect set-up for this phenomenon to occur.
This is a problem because Loons require lakes with enough surface area for their flapping-and-running takeoffs across the water. Loons need a quarter mile of water to take flight. In one way, loons are like airplanes: they need a runway to take off. Loons will flap their wings and run about 30 yards across the surface of the water in order to gain enough speed for liftoff.
According to REGI’s Facebook page, Loons have been seen on land in Wausau, Gleason, Stratford, Neva, Rice Lake, Antigo, and Drummond. Loons are unable to walk and will need assistance from humans. Their legs are placed at the back of the bird and are made for swimming and diving, not walking.
REGI asks that people not take them to small ponds for release. Loons need a quarter mile or more of open water to run across to get airborne.
Loons have sharp beaks and they can be difficult to handle. Loons will also use their beak for self-defense. REGI suggests calling them at (715) 623-4015 or Loon Rescue at (715) 966-5415.
Learn a little more about the Common Loon below…
Common Loons are known as the classic bird of the North Woods lakes. They are indicators of good water quality as they need crystal-clear lakes (makes it easier for them to see prey underwater) with lots of fish. Loons like lakes with coves and islands, as they provide cover from predators while resting and nesting.
Loons are migratory. This means they live in one place and fly to another place to breed. They stay close to large bodies of water, no matter where they are.
The common loon breeds in forested lakes and large ponds found in Greenland, Iceland and northern North America. In the winter, they live along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America, Iceland and Europe.
Common loons are not social birds. You can usually find them by themselves during the day. At night, though, they sometimes stick together in groups called flocks while they sleep. When they migrate, they typically fly alone, though some like to group up during the journey.
They require lakes with enough surface area for their flapping-and-running takeoffs across the water. Loons need a quarter mile of water to take flight. In one way, loons are like airplanes: they need a runway to take off. Loons will flap their wings and run about 30 yards across the surface of the water in order to gain enough speed for liftoff. In another way, loons are like submarines: they can dive below the water. Common loons spend a lot of time sticking their heads below water to look for fish, and then suddenly diving after their prey. Loons have solid bones, unlike other birds. This makes them less buoyant and better at diving. They quickly expel air from their lungs and flatten their feathers to remove air from within their plumage so they can dive deep and swim quickly.
Common Loons are carnivores, and expert fisherman. Their diet consists of mostly fish, particularly perch and sunfish. If fish are scarce or the water is too murky for fishing, they will catch crustaceans, snails, leeches, and even aquatic insect larvae. In their wintering waters, loons eat small fish like Atlantic croaker. Sometimes they band together in groups to chase schools of Gulf silversides.
Loons shoot through the water like a torpedo, propelled by powerful thrusts of feet located near the rear of their body. When their fish change direction, loons can execute an abrupt flip-turn that would make Olympic swimmers jealous. They extend one foot laterally as a pivot brake and kick with the opposite foot to turn 180 degrees in a fraction of a second.
In spring, loon mates arrive back on their lake separately. Loons are monogamous, and pair bonds last about 5 years. If one year one of the mates doesn’t return, the other will quickly pair up with another mate.
The male selects the nest site. Loons nest in quiet, protected, hidden spots of lakeshore, typically in the lee of islands or in a sheltered back bay. Loons can’t walk well on land, so nests are built close to a bank, often with a steep drop-off that allows the bird to approach the nest from underwater. Many times, a nesting pair of loons will reuse the same site the following year, refurbishing their old nest instead of building a new one.
Male and female build the nest together over the course of a week in May or early June, making a mound out of dead plant materials such as sedges and marsh grasses that grow along the lake’s edge. Then one of the loons crawls on top of the mound and shapes the interior to the contours of its body. The finished nest is about 22 inches wide and looks like a clump of dead grasses by the edge of the water.
• Clutch Size: 1-2 eggs
• Number of Broods: 1 brood
• Egg Length: 3.5 in (8.8-9 cm)
• Egg Width: 2.2 in (5.5-5.7 cm)
• Incubation Period: 26-29 days
• Nestling Period: 2 days
• Egg Description: Brown with dark splotches.
• Condition at Hatching: Covered with down, sooty black with a white belly. Able to swim and ride on parents’ backs within hours of hatching.
Chicks sometime ride on their parent’s backs, usually for the first seven to 10 days. They can swim and dive after just two to three days, and by 12 weeks they are able to fly on their own. Chicks become independent when they learn to fly, leaving their parents. At 2 to 3 years old the young will be mature enough to mate.
Adult loons are rarely prey for other species, except for sea otters and large raptors such as bald eagles and ospreys. However, their eggs and chicks are eaten by raccoons, ravens, bald eagles, minks, gulls, crows, snapping turtles, skunks, foxes, northern pike, and muskies.