Red Throated (no, make that a Common Loon) Rescue at Sand Bar State Park!

Bob Dill shared a first hand account of a unique sighting (and rescue) yesterday through Vermont Birds Listserv. We'd like to share his tale:

Bill and a friend, named Phelps, were ice skating off Sand Bar State Park yesterday and soon spotted a distressed red-throated loon on the ice of Lake Champlain. The ice was inhibiting the bird from taking off; it was too slippery. They came ashore for advice and more equipment.

After several calls, they finally got a hold of Carol Winfield in Westford who walked them through how to capture, transport, and release the loon safely. The two men borrowed an extra car coat from a neighbor of Phelps' who happened by at just the right time and skated back out to the bird. Luckily, the capture was straight forward and went off smoothly. The loon was walked back in rather than skating to reduce the risk of falling with the bird.

Bill and Phelps took a short drive to a bridge where rocks near the bridge were free of ice, allowing easy access to ice free water. Bill was able to place the bird near the waters edge, remove the coat, and give it a little nudge. The loon dove into the water immediately and repeatedly. Success!

Bill plans on checking tomorrow to verify that it has moved on. It was his first and, he is sure, closest encounter with a red throated loon. Click here to see pictures of the bird and a short video of the capture.

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Update: Bridget Butler and a lot of folks were talking about and reviewing photos over the weekend and now the consensus is that this is a Common Loon, not a Red Throated Loon.

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