LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AGFC) – This week’s Bird of the Week is the Common Loon. Check some fun facts about the bird below:
Do we have loons in AR?
For those that have spent time on the many lakes of the northern United States and Canada, a loon's call is one of those magical sounds that can put a chill down your spine. The good news for Arkansans—the common loon is a winter migrant to our large, clear reservoirs. Although less vocal in the winter, a loon will sometimes emit its distinctive call. Summertime loons have a distinctive black and white coloring. In winter, they are plain gray above and white below. Other members of the loon family occasionally visit Arkansas—the red-throated, Pacific and yellow-billed.
What do loons sound like?
Common Loons are famous for their eerie, beautiful calls. One writer called it "the laugh of the deeply insane." Different songs/calls have different meanings: Territory call, "Here I am. Where are you?" Alarm call. The yodel is the male loon's territorial claim. Each male has his own signature yodel. If a male moves to a different territory, he will change his yodel. The wail is the haunting call that loons give back and forth to figure out each other's location.
Link to Audio: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/common_loon/sounds
Most birds have hollow bones, but the fish-eating loon's bones are solid, which help it quickly dive in search of its prey. Loons are awkward on land with their legs placed far back on their bodies. These water lovers only hit the turf to mate and incubate egg. They are superb swimmers and have been clocked in the air at 70 miles per hour. If you're out boating this winter and see a loon preparing for take-off, watch them use the water's surface like an airstrip. They need 30 yards to a quarter mile to take flight.
Where can I see loons in AR?
Lake Maumelle in central Arkansas is a likely place to spot loons during our winter months. Take advantage of short birding trails along the south side of the lake along Hwy. 10. Also, keep your eyes and ears peeled at any of our large reservoirs: Beaver, Ouachita, Lake Hamilton and Catherine, Lake Millwood, etc.