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West Virginia Young Common Loon
Kanawha County West Virginia

Links: Guide to Common Birds of West Virginia

Birds of West Virginia
WV Partners in Flight

West Virginia Dept. of Natural Resources
Wildlife Resources
324 Fourth Ave
South Charleston, WV 25303
(304) 558-2771
Kanawha County Contact (304) 675-0871

We spotted this young Common Loon in front of our house. The loon was sitting in the middle of the road and when approached would fly, very low to the ground about 30 feet then land again. We live up in a West Virginia holler or rural route outside of Charleston, WV., Kanawha County miles away  from any substantial body of water. At the time, when didn't know it was a loon but, it looked like it was having trouble walking and we decided to catch it to see if it was injured. The Loon had webbed feet, a very pointed bill and the neck was long like a Swan or Crane. Obviously, it wasn't an adult bird but, it wasn't a chick or baby either. I searched the Web looking for WV waterfowl pictures of ducks, geese and cranes but, they all had roundish bills unlike the bird we had. I found the site Birds Of West Virginia and was surprised that the Common Loon although, only occasionally seen, is present in West Virginia. There were similarities to a lot of the Loon pictures we found but, none that matched this young bird. But, because of the pointed beak and his difficulty walking we determined it had to be one. Loons apparently, spend 90% of their lives on water and their legs and bodies are not designed for walking on land. The common loon can use up to a quarter mile of waterway to get enough lift for flight.
The Loon was found on Sunday so, naturally, no state organizations or Vets are available to call. We didn't know what to do with him. If released, did he miss his migration? Would he continue on his migratory path alone? Could he survive a winter in Charleston WV? We didn't have the answers. We made the Loon as comfortable as possible in a very big cage and gave him some minnows and a Crawdaddy out of our creek in a water bowl. He had more fun knocking every minnow out of the water than eating them. Monday, we sent some pictures to a local Vet that verified it to be a Common Loon, fully feathered and mature enough to release on a large body of water. I called the Department of Natural Resources and WV Partners in Flight and they also said to release him on a large body of water and he would be fine.
The Kanawha river seemed like the natural choice for us and was only a couple miles away. The video below shows the release. He was definitely in his element and looked thrilled to be back in water.


west virginia common loon kanawha county
Fully feathered young loon with brown eyes

wv common loon back
Webbed feet and very little tail common loon

west virginia young loon head and neck
Whachoo Lookin At!

kanawha county wv loon feathered
Smile For The Camera

wv web footed loon lost migrating
Smell My Feet

west virginia white belly young loon sharp beak
Rub Da Buddha!

wv kanawha county long neck common loon sharp beak web feet
This Is Looning Not Craning

Video of us releasing the young Common  Loon in Kanawha river

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brown eyes feathered loon from kanawha county
Sharp beaked, webbed feet, brown eyed loon from Critter Creek

white throat and belly common loon wv
Yes, I'm Cute!


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