Sunday, April 22, 2018

Common Loon Bathing and Preening

On 19 April was sunny and warm. I returned to the Superior Drive Pond here in Northfield, Minnesota, to take waterfowl photos. Two loons loafed on the lake. I took a couple of hundred images of a bathing loon. These seven pictures, all of one bird, more or less represents what I saw. The loon began by “showering.”
For almost a minute the loon splashed water all over itself. Then it raised its body almost to the point of tipping over. Presumably it was drying itself after showering. Although loons bathe infrequently, this behavior is well-descriped in the literature (Evers et al. 2010).
The loon proceeded to preen its feathers. Loons can preen at any time of day. Preening lasts from one to 29 minutes (Evers et al. 2010). After floating almost on its side while it worked on its belly feathers, the bird rolled over and floated on its back, with one foot pointing upward. I did not notice this loon shaking its leg, a behavior described for other loons. All the while it continued preening its belly.
After finishing its belly preening, the loon worked its back and breast. Loons often preen, almost always while on floating on water. Loons spend their days alternating between preening and feeding.
Finally finished, it floated with its neck held high. Then it swam off, fishing, like one would expect a loon to do.

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