It sounds like the name of a micro-brew beer or a smaller wineries label, but it is actually something that grudgingly happens in nature. You see, loons aren’t really made to walk. Their build… not designed for walking. Ponderous ungainly flying… sure, they’re pretty good at that. Agile, vigorous swimming… they’re better at it than many of the fish that they catch and eat. Walking though… judge for yourself from these photographs of a Red-throated Loon-
I photographed this Red-throat one day while I was kayaking on Tomales Bay, taking pictures of a yellow-billed Loon, one of the more uncommon loons that we find here on Tomales Bay (or most places for that matter). I find the Red-throats to be very beautiful though, with their more delicate, slender lines, and since they were near each other I took advantage by photographing both as I drifted in my kayak.
As I was watching the loons they decided it was time to head onto the beach for a little rest. And I saw one of the more ungainly attempts at walking that I had ever imagined.
They burst into this shuffling sort of run, where they work to keep their feet underneath them, as their body balances too far forward on legs that were set too far back (for swimming). If they stuck to a slower pace they would land one their… do birds have chins? Not really, but it just doesn’t sound the same to say that “they’d land on their beaks.” Their bodies weight carries them forward, and their feet struggle to stay under them.
They work so hard, and put so much effort into making it just a few feet up the beach. I’ve never seen another bird that looked so alien to land, as the loon when it tries to walk. Please, never approach a loon that is lying on the shore. If it is there, it is for a reason, and it needs its rest. It costs them so much to get there, that it would just seem cruel to chase them back into the water.