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Loons can't walk on land.
Loons can’t walk on land.

Did you know that there are some birds that actually can’t walk on land?

Some water birds such as grebes and loons are excellent swimmers and divers. Their legs are farther back on their bodies than most birds. This feature allows them to move faster under water, although it also makes them almost helpless on land.

Visit this external site to learn more about the interesting adaptations of the common loon.

To take off to fly, these amazing birds actually run on top of the water!

Sometimes when these birds are flying, they look down and mistake a wet parking lot for a lake. They’ll descend towards what they think is a safe landing space in water… If they don’t pull up in time, they crash into the parking lot! Since these birds can’t walk on land, they become stranded. If you ever find a bird like this, please get it to a rehabber immediately. The bird cannot help itself!

In most cases, these kinds of birds will be treated for ‘road rash’ from their fall and should be ready for release in just a few days. While in captivity, they will eat hundreds of fish each day.

"Hoover" got his name from eating so much!
‘Hoover’ got his name from eating so much!

The common loon pictured here was rescued from a Boulder county highway. The bird’s rescuer actually saw the bird duck down to save its life as a truck ran right over it!

Greenwood would like to thank the rescuer and all of the volunteers and staff who helped care for the patient during his short stay at the Center. “Hoover” was released on Thanksgiving Day, 2006.

Volunteers Claudia Kriese, Tina Mitchell, Daniel Kowalewski, Courtney Stelzer (staff), Julie Myers, and Spencer Chapin spent Thanksgiving at the Center and ended their day with a loon release.

Check out two other kinds of birds that can’t walk on land:

Western Grebe
Western Grebe
Pied-Billed Grebe
Pied-Billed Grebe

Loon Alert!