Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Loon Patients Have Been Released! Now Swimming in the Gulf of Mexico

( Photo: Katie Farvour prepares #1 for his trip to Florida. )

Common Loons are difficult patients. The species is challenging in terms of their high stress nature as well as a fungal disease, aspergillosis that affects loons undergoing physiological stress.

We are elated to tell you that both Common Loon patients REGI staff cared for so diligently since October 10 and 12 respectively, were released in the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa, Florida on November 18, 2010.

(Photo: Katie loads a soon to be former patient into her travel box for a quick trip to Florida and freedom.)

We are indebted once again to the generous corporation located in Central WI for transporting the loons to Florida. The company prefers to remain anonymous, however that does not lessen the magnitude of their gift to REGI and our loon patients.

The following photos will allow you to participate in the trip.

( Photo: One Common Loon in a box. The next time the top is opened she will be in Florida taking her first leap into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico!)

( Photo: Katie and the loons are ready to leave the clinic at 5 a.m. on 11-18-10, bound for the airport.)

( Photo: Katie loading the Loons in the van for the airport trip.)

( Photo: Katie secures the loons inside the corporate jet for their 2.5 hr "accelerated migration" from Central WI to Florida.)

( Photo: Arriving near Tampa, Florida. In an hour they would be wild again.)

( Photo: That bright sunshine tells the loons they are not in Wisconsin anymore!)

( Photo: George Blumenschein had the honor of showing the birds the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in their young lives. We can't help but wonder what was going through the mind of this loon when the photo was taken. )

( Photo: Loon #2 wasted no time before running across the warm waters and taking a short flight.)

All well that ends well they say. The loons both were in serious trouble when they were admitted to REGI.
Loon #1 had his beak wrapped in fishing line, a lead sinker hanging from it. X-rays revealed he had swallowed a fishing hook. The hook was in a precarious position. His chances of recovering were slim, but my staff and I don't give up on birds as long as they demonstrate a willingness to survive. That is how it was with this So it was handsome young loon.
Loon #2 was starving and the victim of lead poisoning. She was more reserved while in captivity. Lead poisoning causes neurological problems as well as multi organ failure. She was critically ill when admitted, but was the first to launch into the air when released.

Both loons swam, dove, preened, and began fishing immediately after release. That is exactly the kind of news we waited to hear!

( Photo: Loon #1 when admitted.)

(Photos: X-rays revealed a disturbing and challenging problem.)

( Photo: Loon #2 shortly after being admitted. She was starving and toxic. )

We are delighted these beautiful Common Loons have a second chance at life. A huge thank you to REGI staff, Katie Farvour, Alberta Halfmann, Lance Holm, Molly McKay and Karissa Mohr for the spectacular care, R.J. Hilger and Sons Inc. for supplying the loons with lots and lots and lots of minnows during their stay, Dr Sarah Lautzenhiser and the Antigo Veterinary Clinic staff for their supurb help, George and Rosalie Blumenschein for meeting the aircraft and taking the loons to the water for release, the citizens that found the sick loons and reported their situation to REGI staff, and the Central WI company that has been our hero so many times flying or patients to release in warm climates. Loons are the most difficult and expensive patients we care for.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are grateful the loons are swimming in warm waters. We hope their stay with us at REGI is soon a distant memory. The next time they migrate they will use their own wings!

In honor of these magnificent loons, perhaps everyone can make an extra effort to pick up discarded fishing line around lakes or stream and chose to use non-lead fishing tackle and sinkers. You may be one person but you can make a difference for wildlife.

Have a great day everyone.
Marge Gibson © 2010


  1. Such wonderful news! Great post and photos!

  2. what a great ending to such a scary beginning. brought a tear to my eye-tear of happiness. way to go regi! and all of the kind folks who helped make this happen