Common Loon

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The common loon transformed the state of Minnesota with its natural beauty and melancholy sounds. Its contribution to the beauty of Minnesota was recognized by it being named the state bird.
~Nancy Lee Nelson, St. Paul, MN

The loon is a nice animal and it is the state bird, it has a distinct call that no other bird has, it is a beautiful bird. It is on the lake which is also known for Minnesota that is why the loon is why Minnesota makes Minnesota.
~Sherry, Orono, MN

The loon is associatd with the state of Minnesota. If you are a Minnesotan and hear a loon you naturally think of MN.
~Cindy Schreiber, St. Paul, MN

The common loon, Gavia immer, first seen some 130 million years ago, is Minnesota's official state bird. Called by Native Americans The Spirit of the Northern Waters, and The Diver with the Necklace by the French, the loon is a quintessential water bird, living its entire life on, in, and near water. Its ability to fly at 75 miles per hour, dive up to 250 feet deep, run across water surfaces, and raise its young on water makes it the ideal avian symbol for Minnesota, Land of More Than 10,000 Lakes. Its haunting vocalizations, primal to the core, are unique in the bird world, representing to many Minnesotans the very essence of wilderness.

A loon's feet, webbed and placed well back on its body, ensure that the bird only functions well surrounded by water; it is clumsy on land. Loons need quiet surroundings and are not able to tolerate turbulent waters busy with motorboat traffic and other disturbances. Because their primary food is fish, mercury levels in lake fish are a threat, as well as lead sinkers and jigs left behind from fishermen. Burgeoning lakeshore development means more cottages, more people, and more noise, and that means, in turn, that fewer suitable nesting and nursery sites are available to loons. Because of these environmental challenges, loons are slowly decreasing in numbers.

Why is this bird a significant shaper of Minnesota history? Because its survival, or its eventual demise as a species, is directly connected to our own survival as human residents of this state. We, too, are historically tied to the water, through our generations-old boating heritage, wetland conservation needs, and longtime travel patterns on and in water, whether for commerce or leisure. We, too, need unpolluted water and food, unspoiled by chemicals and contaminants. We, too, need a safe place to raise our children and to live without fear.

The loon is, to borrow a bird phrase, the proverbial canary in the coal mine. What happens to the loon happens to us.
~Sandra A. Waterman, Vadnais Heights, MN


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