Friday, July 9, 2010

Dakota County Common Loon

Susan P. mentioned that she found an adult and young Common Loon at Kingsley Lake near Lakeville, Dakota Co., and that the birds could probably be photographed.  Because loons are my favorite birds,  Erika and I were not long in searching.  We immediately found the birds along the southwest corner of the lake. The adult gave several clear and piercing yodels as we approached.
I did not know that Common Loons nest this far south in Minnesota.  Janssen, in his book, Birds in Minnesota, indicates that Dakota Co. is the southern limit to their nesting range.  Non-breeding loons are found south of their nesting range.  Historically, loons may have bred as far south as the Iowa border.
If you look for these loons, watch your toes.  The lake is guarded by this aggressive snapping turtle.  If you look closely, a leech is riding the turtle's back. Perhaps the turtle is one reason there is only one young loon. 
More perils await both loon parent and young, since their main wintering area in the Gulf of Mexico is awash in spilled oil.  These birds are probably doomed unless they are fortunate enough to winter, as some loons do, along the Atlantic coast.

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