Friday, March 16, 2007

Animal Behavior

We’ve all heard of the age old conundrum: why did the chicken cross the road? Last summer Loon Rangers Ron and Karen Schoephoester had to ask why and how did the loon chicks that they were monitoring cross the road between Bobidosh Lake and White Sand Lake in Vilas County, Wisconsin. For the second year in a row, they reported that loon chicks have migrated over land from one lake to another before they could fly. This is not an isolated incident, there are at least three recordings of similar behavior in the last twelve years, but it is extremely rare.

With the exception of nesting on the water’s edge, loons have adapted to life exclusively in the water. They cannot take off into flight from land, nor can an adult travel any distance by foot. “At nine weeks, the resident adults were able to call one of the chicks over to White Sand Lake, a journey of at least five-hundred feet uphill, through the woods, and across a road,” the Shoephoester’s reported. “Five days later, the second chick followed.” Photos from the Schoephoester’s neighbor remind us why this is so unlikely. The loon chicks scraped along using their wings and awkward, large, webbed feet. In this case and others, onlookers worried about their slow progress across the road and have assisted with the crossing, but other reports show that loon chicks have covered unimaginable distances by themselves.
LoonWatch would like to collect as many reports of this phenomenon as possible to look for commonalities. If you have seen or heard of a loon that crossed the road or overland terrain, please call or email us with your stories. In a later article, we will discuss our findings and hopefully answer the question, why did the loon cross the road?

I know what you're thinking, what does the moose picture have to do with all of this? This moose that was born among horses and is horse trained at this point--another example of behavior you don't see every day. For the full story, email me.

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