Injured Loon Encounter


Last August, I visited Cape Cod for a family wedding. I also got to do some birdwatching and spend time at the beach. I decided to get one last look at the ocean on the last day of my trip before driving the rental car back to Providence, Rhode Island, to catch my afternoon flight home. I drove over to the closest beach at Sandwich, Massachusetts, and headed out for a walk along the shore.

I was looking for birds at the beach and was surprised to see what looked like a loon so close to shore. I took photos with my iPhone and decided that I was looking at a loon though I was not sure what kind of loon it was. The loon was acting strange. At first I thought that perhaps it was a juvenile loon testing its wings out. The loon kept rising out of the water and flopping its wings.




I began to become concerned that the loon was injured because of its behavior. The loon then came ashore and beached itself right at the water’s edge. I slowly approached while trying to see if I could see any fishing wire or other item that was causing the loon distress. I saw nothing but was frustrated because I could not see the wings. The loon moved slightly when I approached. I sat down about 10 feet away. There was no way I could help the loon myself. I had nothing to capture it nor training to assist it. I also had to leave shortly to get to the airport on time.


I began making phone calls to local authorities trying to get someone out to assist the loon. I called the City of Sandwich. A lady there referred me to someone handling wildlife who in turn referred me to another individual that rehabilitates wildlife. Unfortunately, this individual was far away out on the other end of Cape Cod. She said she would take the loon in if I could get it out to her. I emailed photos of the loon stating that I thought it was injured to everyone I could get them to and posted photos of Facebook of the Massachusetts Audubon Society appealing for identification assistance and letting everyone know that I thought the bird needed immediate help. In the end, I was informed by someone that they would try to swing by the beach later. I did not have a lot of confidence in someone responding. I was distraught having to leave the beach without being able to do anything more. I wanted to stay and keep watch while trying to get someone out to assist but I had to return the rental car and get on a flight.


I do not know what happened to the loon. When I got home, I enlarged the photos and noticed that there appears to be an injury to the loon’s right wing. I could not see this while seeing it in the water or looking at the photos on my iPhone. I never observed the loon in flight. It may not have been able to fly. I only had my iPhone with me I was unable to get better photos. I welcome comments about bird identification on this loon and about the suspected wing injury.


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