Sinister Song

You've seen a horror movie before. You know the drill. A couple goes camping in the middle of a swamp full of alligators and right before one of them becomes a snack, you hear a reel of "chilling nature noises" from the age-old hollywood stockpile of avian and insect recordings. One of these sounds comes from the Common Loon and I'm betting you've heard it before. The most commonly recognized call is the "wail" and the acoustic properties of this call allow it to travel through foggy forested environments. Here in Newfoundland, we have more forest and more fog than you can begin to dream up. We also have more than one species of loon. The Red-throated Loon stops by the island for breeding as well but I have yet to spot one. You'll be the first to know when I do. I have linked a video which includes quality recordings of the "wail" call at the end of this post.

I spotted the Common Loon below in a tiny pond near Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, NL. See if you can distinguish his bright red eyes.



Loons have very interesting feet. Picture a duck's foot and then expand the webbing. Now expand it again. An adult Common Loon (6 - 10 lbs.) has feet that in no way look proportionate to its body. This is, of course, directly related to its method of eating and landing prey. Check out this photo of someone banding a loon so that you can get an idea of how large the legs and feet can be.

Loon foot

The following video/audio is courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Macaulay Library.


See you soon with a very special guest, the Snowy Owl!