Lookout for Loons: Weather Events Grounds Loons Across the Northwoods

Apr 27, 2021

Credit Raptor Education Group, Inc.

Rain, hail, and snow haven’t been the only things falling from the skies in the last 48 hours.

Local wildlife rehabilitators have been busy responding to calls of grounded loons.

“We see this happen every few years,” said Mark Naniot, Director of Rehabilitation at Wild Instincts in Rhinelander.

During weather events like we’ve been seeing the last of days where it’s cold and wet, it’s not uncommon to see loons land on pavement, especially when it happens during the migration.

“Be it a parking lots, be it a roadway, it looks like a river or a lake to them when they’re flying,” said Naniot.

The problem is once the loons land, they can’t take back off.

Credit Raptor Education Group, Inc.

“Once they’re on the ground that’s pretty much it. They can kind of push themselves around. If there’s water base, they might be able to make it. But in many cases, they’re too far from the water and can’t get there,” he said.

The loons might have some ice forming on their wings or may have gotten hurt in the landing.

Naniot recommends catching the bird and bringing it to your local wildlife rehabber if you can do so safely.

“If they took a Rubbermaid container, put something in the bottom of the container so it’s not slippery like a blanket or something. Loons have very formidable beaks, so they want to make sure they’ve got some gloves and long sleeve jacket or something like that on,” said Naniot. “Just take the container, turn it on its side, use the lid to kind of scoot them into the container and gently turn them up right and transport them to your nearest rehabber.”

Naniot says if you’re not able to do so safely, you can give them a call at 715-362-9453.

Raptor Education Group, Inc. in Antigo has also taken in several loons that have been grounded this week. You can contact them at 715-623-4015.

Aside from this weather event and the impact on loons, spring is normally a busy time for wildlife rehabilitators.

Naniot urges people to cautious while spring cleaning. There may be baby animals in sheds or boats.

He says if you have any questions about what you come across, don’t hesitate to call.

“We always try to get the animals reunited with the parents whenever we possibly can. If it helps to leave whatever is there for a couple weeks until those babies mature and get out of there, it’s always helpful,” said Naniot.

He says there’s a lot of babies and a lot of situations this time of year. Wild Instincts is on call 24/7 for wildlife emergencies.