On December 17, I awoke to -25 F here in Craftsbury, VT. The day before a juvenile Common Loon had crash-landed in a field at dusk in Cabot, VT. Lynn Rockwell and her husband saw the bird, called the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), which instructed them to call me. The bird was lucky enough to spend a much warmer night in my 50 F room upstairs. The loon was soon joined by a Snowy Owl that spent the cold night inside in a friend’s cow barn.
When Rob Strong went in for milking on this frigid morning, the lights caused the owl to flutter about, alarming the cows. The owl made its way out the door after one cow came within a few feet, no doubt trying to figure out what type of creature had infiltrated. I caught the owl and placed it in a box next to the loon, where they both spent the day.
After work (on cross country ski trails, not loons), I brought the owl to a bird rehabber, Craig Newman, who works for Outreach for Earth Stewardship, where the snowy is recovering.
The loon was fairly healthy. There are two likely possibilities as to why crashed in a field. One is that it was likely coming through in migration, couldn’t find water for a landing, and ended up in a field. The other is that it found some open water at edge of pond or slow flowing stream, and then the ensuing cold weather turned water into ice.
In any event, my son released the loon near the Echo Center on Lake Champlain, where it swam out a way, dove, came up and gave a combination call between a wail and part-yodel.