Slice of Life: Loons & Humans

Over the past two years, I’ve become interested in loons. The reason? Well, we have a cabin in the Wisconsin North Woods on a small lake and have resident loons during the time they spend in northern climates. Which, if you don’t know, is the season of clear, open water, and seasonally warmer temperatures – late spring, summer, and fall.

Hearing their calls (they have four different vocalizations) in the early morning, throughout the day, and especially at dusk warms my heart and makes me smile. I’ve often heard myself saying in the late spring, “Did you hear that? The loons are back!” And, so begins their season with us.

The loons leave before the water freezes over. This is a bird that is not able to live on land. It needs open water to take off, a runway of sorts, across the lake. The loons’ water landing also requires a considerable amount of space.

Video of loon hoots in Wisconsin this summer. Calling them in from a short distance at dusk. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

I’ve become very fond of these creatures. They are beautiful with their iconic black and water plumage and red eyes. I feel that we are lucky to have loons return to our lake each year in Wisconsin. They’ve even inspired me to write poetry about them.

Loon’s family gathered after two landed (above video) at dusk on a lake in Northern Wisconsin. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

But, since Thanksgiving, there is a loon story I’ve been following out of one of our neighboring states, Minnesota. A woman in the small town of Nevis saw that a juvenile loon was “stuck” on their lake. He, now named Gilligan, failed to leave when the other loons left. Ice has formed on the lake and now the loon cannot leave because of the lack of a water runway. I’ve attached the story that ran last night on a Minnesota new channel just last night (12/13/2021).

Gilligan and his reverse island by kare 11 news.

You’ll note that at the end of the video, the woman who has taken on Gilligan’s rescue by observing, updating, and notifying the appropriate authorities is taking a lot of “flack” from others who are following the story via the internet.

It seems there is a growing faction of those who just want to question and criticize. It seems that this faction always exists when the internet or specifically Facebook is involved. I have to say that I feel for this woman. She seems informed and she seems to be doing the right thing by alerting authorities. She is also reluctant to throw anyone or any agency under the bus for rules, regulations, and considering the safety of humans as well as the loon. She admits she is not an expert, just an observer, and relayer of information. I respect all of that about her, even though I don’t personally know her. I appreciate what she’s done.

Criticisms of her were the impetus for my post today. As I said, I don’t know her, but I’ve seen similar reactions on the internet before. I am an environmental educator. People are judging this woman’s actions without being fully informed. I truly do not understand it. We must respect those in authority to know what they can do to help and what they cannot. She is doing just that. Why must there be constant criticisms and questions?

At this point, I hope the situation resolves for the loon, Gillian, and the gracious woman who has brought his conundrum to the attention of others who could help, but I think that no matter what happens some will continue to criticize what they had nothing to do with.

What makes this part of human nature?

I don’t know, but I know I don’t like it.

Good luck with the loon rescue. I hope it all works out.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday. Thank you to TwoWritingTeachers.org for creating and hosting such a supportive and welcoming space for us to share our writing. I have participated in this wonderful forum since 2017.

6 thoughts

  1. I know exactly what you mean about all of the online criticism out there. It seems to be growing worse, too, as time goes on. Can you imagine how much better things would be if they used all that energy to educate themselves? I hope the little loon is okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, thank you for the video of the loon calls. It sounds surprisingly like barks to me! It also saddens me to know that there are folks who would give this woman a hard time for doing her part in this world. And you’re right. Meanness is a darker side of human nature that I’ll never fully understand.

    Liked by 1 person

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