This beautiful loon was found in the middle of Hwy 97, a few days into our first serious dump of snow and cold snap. He (or she) clearly face-planted into the hwy as the tip of his bill is damaged. We are assessing as to weather he can be rehabilitated.
Water birds like loons, grebes, and mergansers not only need their sharp bill to catch (or spear) fish, but to preen and maintain their waterproofing. You can see in this picture that his waterproofing is compromised - there is a small nickle sized darker spot just under his chin...this is a spot where clearly he has lost his waterproofing. Likely he got some debris(perhaps blood from the injury) here. This is an avenue to hyperthermia were he to be released with this.
Weather can force a bird down for various reasons - sometimes because of poor physical condition (parasite loads or just lack of enough food to develop the muscle mass for the whole migratory trip), but sometimes simply from really bad weather. Loon and grebes can mistake our wet pavement for rivers...seems odd, but visibility can be hindered in bad weather, as we all know.
Please if you see a bird on the snow, in a road, or just acting strange...or in a location that seems odd...give us a call. Unless a bird is a crow or a songbird actively eating seeds under a tree or hopping around on snow...consider that bird in distress. Birds do not sit in the snow (unless they are ptarmagin!) generally....No shorebird should ever be in the snow...and no water birds.
I believe this bird to be a common loon.
Author: Elise Wolf
I have fascinated by wild birds my whole life. I finally got involved in avian rescue when it became clear that while we need to do all we can to save habitat and ecological systems, for many populations of birds, every single bird matters. And thus, saving them one at a time is increasingly important.