Saturday, May 22, 2010

Doodles Of Loons

Look, there is something wrong with this picture. No it's not just that the loon has no feet. It's that the loon lacks looniness.

Taking notes is good. Taking doodle notes is even better. Opening my journal I realized how faded my recollection had become. But these little black lines revived my memories and restored them in Technicolor. Wading in the cool water, catching crayfish for my daughter. The just-before sunset tranquility, stillness as I swam. The heart rending call of the loons as I floated in the middle of the lake.

I'd been pretty surprised to find loons on a lake. I’d thought they were seabirds. Apparently they’re more commonly thought of as lake birds. They are in fact both. They summer on northern lakes from southern Canada to Greenland to reproduce, and winter on coastal waters or the Great Lakes.

My doodles brought back in vivid glory my experiences on Little Rock Pond in VT. But it couldn’t capture what I didn’t experience. I’ve never seen a loon up close. My blatant ignorances are duly reflected in my doodle. As it turns out though some level of ignorance is good. Blundering people can scare birds off their nests or pester them into exhaustion and even death. If they’re sounding an alarm or trying to intimidate with their dance, they aren’t eating. Eating is what they really need to do. Eat and preen.

As much as I love the idea of dancing birds, I never want to see a loon dancing, at least not unless binoculars are required. I’m not like a sadistic fairy queen from a Holly Black or Cassandra Clare story.

Whether out of ignorance or sadism, there are lots of unfortunate YouTube videos of people chasing loons with their canoes and camcorders. This YouTube video shows loons as they are meant to be observed.

[FYI for you Trivial Pursuitists, the loon is the state bird of Minnesota. Today’s other fun facts came from “The Loon” by Judith P. Josephson 1988 and “Loon Magic for Kids” by Tom Klein 1989. For more Loon info check out Cornell’s All About Birds. The YouTube video was taken 9/6/06 by "cancer239" on Flying Pond in Maine.]


  1. When I was four years old, my first family vacation was to Loon Lake in upstate New York, not far from Lake George. So besides New York City pigeons, loons were one of the first birds I saw. I love the sound of loons. Thanks for the video link.

  2. Our first memories are so special. When I was three and four my earliest nature memories were of flowers and spiders.