Loon fallout | Frozen birds drop as America's midwest battles cold snap
Migratory birds, frozen by the cold snap hitting America's Midwest, have suddenly started dropping from the sky and are lying helplessly in ponds, fields and cow pastures. A rescue operation is underway to save the lives of these falling loons.
The alarm of a “Loon Fallout” was raised by the Raptor Education Group in Wisconsin to make people aware of the plight of falling birds.
The Raptor Education Group stated that they have been receiving calls for two days about stranded loons which need to be rescued because they can't walk after the freezing cold weather conditions led to the occurrence of the phenomena.
"A few loons can be a normal situation of a loon accidentally landing as a mistake," said the nonprofit in a Facebook post.
However, because of the huge number of calls made to the group as well as the winter conditions prevailing in the region, they said it appeared that a "loon fallout" is occurring.
"That occurs when atmospheric conditions are such that the migrating loons develop ice on their body as they fly at high altitude and crash-land when they are no longer able to fly due to the weight of the ice on their body or the interference with their flight ability," the group said, which helps in the rehabilitation and care of wild birds.
Presently, the loons have been rescued from Wausau, Gleason, Stratford, Neva, Rice Lake, Antigo and Drummond, said the REGI staff.
'Loons cannot walk'
The founder and director of the group, Marge Gibson, said that the event has been different from the other incidents which have occurred in the past.
"One reason is that of more public involvement … that made it possible for loons to be found, that in past events may not have been," she stated.
Gibson, after evaluation, said that some of the loons will be sent into large open lakes so that they can continue migrating.
"Loons cannot walk! They will need your help," the group stated in its Facebook post. "If you find a loon on land or on a road or cow pasture, realize that it cannot walk," it added.
As per REGI, the legs of the loon are placed at the bird's back and made for diving and swimming and not walking. The birds cannot fly from small ponds as a quarter mile or more open water is needed by the bird to run across and fly.
"Do not take them to small ponds for release," said Gibson said.
As per Gibson, few migrating loons are going to stay in Wisconsin while others will migrate to Canada. Gibson has been in touch with loon biologists in Canada and even Montana, where a similar pattern is being noticed by them.
"Midwest loons are migrating now. They come mostly from the Gulf of Mexico, unlike East Coast loons that can winter in the open ocean. Our lakes freeze, preventing overwintering," she said.