Friday, February 04, 2011

Loon Rescue

Early yesterday afternoon I took my daily walk along the shore. Bill Jones was with me. About a half mile down the beach we spied a loon out of the water. I thought, now this would be the time to have my camera, but no such luck. When the loon saw us it immediately started towards the surf.

If you know anything about loons you know they are extremely clumsy on land. Their legs, set far back on their body for superior swimming ability, don't work very efficiently out of the water. Many people, when they see a loon on land, immediately think they are injured. I thought, maybe if we hurry we can get a close up view of this marvelous creature. As we drew nearer we noticed that the loon was moving even more slowly than expected. It was dragging a fishing lure attached to monofilament that was wrapped around its wings and legs.

We had no difficulty intercepting the bird. After a close examination and some quick thinking I took off my jacket and covered the loon's head (every time we had approached, it lashed out and tried to bite my leg). With a firm but gentle grip I could keep the loon still. I pulled my pocket knife out of my pocket and handed it to Bill. He had to cut the fishing line in several places to free the bird, but the wings and legs seemed no worse for the ordeal.

After I removed the jacket the loon lost little time pulling its way to the water. It dove under the breakers and emerged on the far side, gazing around, undoubtedly relieved to be unencumbered.

Bill says that was the best beach walk he's ever had. The loon, it turns out, is his favorite bird, and he was happy to help rescue one of these remarkable creatures.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Sam Jones, Island Legend. You can read it here:


  1. Applause. Applause. Way to go Philip and Bill. We are all proud of you.

  2. Anonymous7:30 AM

    Way to go Phillip!!

  3. I think Bill is always there when you need him! No injuries, Bill, with that pocket knife? Whew. Great story, thanks for sharing.

  4. Anonymous8:23 AM

    Philip, what a fabulous story! You and Bill were meant to be at the beach, in that particular location, at that specific time! You both must have felt like jumping and high-fiving each other knowing that the Loon will survive, after you freed it from the fishing line.

    Great call covering the Loon's head w/ your coat, Philip. I've seen this procedure successfully done on other creatures watching the animal/discovery channel. Apparently, covering the head/eyes calms the frighten creature.

    I thank God you two were there!

    What a cool story to share with Lachlan! I bet he loved hearing about it!

    The next time I hear the soulful call of a Loon, I will remember the special day in February when you/Bill saved a Loon on Ocracoke Island!


  5. Anonymous11:07 AM

    Did you save the lure? I betcha the fisherman that lost it wants it back. Do you think you can find the guy and give it back to them and then thank them for leaving the fishing line behind to catch a bird and nearly kill a beautiful creature put on God's Earth. You can tell them of the heroic efforts you took to save the bird had it not been for that man/woman's thoughtlessness. No we get up in arms at oil covered pelicans but a loon caught in fishing line a tragedy that happens more often than you think is worthy of suggested high fives

  6. Anonymous11:30 AM

    Philip, "true" Southern Gentleman always carry a pocket knife. Good job.

  7. Anonymous1:43 PM

    Wow, what do you know, people actually can be helpful to the environment. Ask the anti-OVR people, the Audubon, DOW, and other enviro groups and they wouldn't have wanted you there in the first place. Good job Philip. Just think in the future you might not be able to save such birds. The beaches would be closed to you and you would have never been able to get close enough to help.

  8. Anonymous2:20 AM

    Oh there you go again uninformed poster @beach access. If you kept abreast of recent Supreme Court rulings you would not have misrepresented a postulation. Public access to beaches was reaffirmed in a case ruling regarding beach re-nourishment. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I am a common tater.

  9. Debbie Leonard2:09 PM

    *Like* :)

  10. Anonymous10:33 PM

    Sure Common tater. So you don't think our access to the beaches is going to be limited? You seem to be the one smoking something. I think you are the one that is uninformed. SO you still support the Audubon folks that want to sell land that was given in trust so that a hotel can be built on it? THey are a bunch of crooks. But then again, you know everything.