Stranded grebes, loons and mergansers

It looks like we’re in for another late, cold spring, with delayed ice-out. This means we may be in for another spring full of stranded grebes, loons, and mergansers.

Grebes, loons, mergansers, and a few species of duck have feet that are placed far back on their bodies to allow them to dive for their preferred prey – fish. Because of this foot placement, these birds are not able to take off from dry land.

As these birds migrate north, they look for open water on which to land. They may mistake parking lots and streets for ponds and streams, and land there. Once grounded, they are stranded, and will die without human help.

Loons are dangerous to handle because of their long, sharp, stabbing beaks. To pick them up, it’s best to employ the “cover ’em completely technique” using a coat, blanket or heavy cloth of some kind. If you must hold the loon barehanded, be sure to hold the head or beak firmly with one hand, keeping it away from your face. Use a heavy cardboard box for transport.

Please help these birds if you find them; they will die if you don’t! If it’s a loon and you’re not willing to handle it, call Wildwoods (218-491-3604), the State Patrol (218-723-4886), or, if in Duluth, Animal Control (218-723-3259). Thanks!

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