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Get A Wild Neighborhood PDF

By John Henricksson

ISBN-10: 0816630178

ISBN-13: 9780816630172

ISBN-10: 0816688486

ISBN-13: 9780816688487

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Extra resources for A Wild Neighborhood

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Loons return to Gunflint Lake on the day the ice goes out, usually late in April or early May. They need big water because a long runway is absolutely necessary for takeoff. They run on top of the water, wings pumping, until they can get airborne, usually needing up to a quarter of a mile to get into the air. Surrounding high timber is also an advantage so they can see predators coming from the air, such as hawks, eagles, and owls, which prey on the chicks. The loons' chicks are probably the sorriest-looking creatures of the spring.

When this competition threatens its food supply, the loon goes into its U-boat mode. With its swim bladder slightly deflated, it stays offshore, out from the merganser fleet, its head barely visible above the water and its bill angled upward like a periscope. When it zeros in on the group of merganser chicks feeding in the rocks near shore, it submerges, kicks forward, and speeds underwater toward its target. It grabs a chick's feet and holds it down until it drowns. Not a very neighborly thing to do, but protecting its food supply is critical, and the laws of the wild are immutable.

Its landing gear is set so far back it is unable to balance itself or walk on land. It is a missile-bird in the water but very awkward on land. Loons do not "fly" underwater; that is, they don't use their wings for propulsion like some sea birds. The shearwater, the eiders, and the puffins are among the best of these underwater fliers. When the loon swims underwater, its wings are folded tightly against its body. Its propulsion comes from heavily muscled legs and its paddle-shaped feet. 22 FIRST C I T I Z E N OF MINNESOTA It seems like heresy to say anything but shining words about the loon, icon of wilderness waters and First Citizen of Minnesota.

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A Wild Neighborhood by John Henricksson


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