Who would have
thought that our very own Okanogan Highlands is a great place to view one of
the world’s most charismatic and endearing bird species? Although not many
common loons nest in Washington any more, breeding pairs and chicks can be
found on several highland lakes throughout the summer months and into the fall.
This month’s Highland Wonders Podcast features Daniel and Ginger Poleschook – dedicated
researchers, educators and advocates for common loons. They share what they
have learned over 26 years of studying the species and getting to know the
individual loons that inhabit our local lakes. Enjoy!
Jack, Nature Detective, Season 1, Episode 5: Washington’s Not-So-Common Loon
One warm spring day out on Bonaparte Lake, Jack
the Nature Detective is fishing with his dad. Suddenly he hears a strange noise,
“it sounds like a cross between a wolf’s howl and a chicken’s squawk.” Jack
squints across the lake and he can’t believe what he is seeing! It’s a…a…penguin?
It’s a very large bird, anyway, and black and white. What else could it be?
Jack keeps watching. The bird is swimming around like a duck and keeps diving
under water in a very penguin-like way. Jack is puzzled, though. He wonders
aloud, “I thought that penguins live on the bottom of the globe, and we live
closer to the top. If this is a penguin, it is very far from home. How could
From that day on, Jack watches his mystery
bird friends often. There are two of them. He notices that they are good
fisher-birds, and that they built a nest on a grassy tuft on the edge of the
lake. One early summer day Jack sees something especially amazing. “Look!” he
shouts. “One of the birds is carrying a fuzzy little baby on its back!” All of
a sudden, the bird starts (what can only be described as) yodeling. She sounds
scared and upset. Jack looks up and sees a bald eagle soaring above the lake.
As the bald eagle is about to dive, Jack’s mom wades out into the lake waving
her arms and yelling, “HEY! GET AWAY!” The eagle moves on, and the mama and
baby glide away.
By this time, Jack is pretty sure this amazing
bird is not a penguin, but he is still not sure what it could be. He decides, “It’s
time to get to the bottom of this mystery.” Back at home, Jack gets to work with
his favorite bird book, The Sibley Field Guide (it has, in the Nature
Detective’s opinion, the best pictures). Soon Jack realizes that that his hunch
was right – the mystery bird isn’t a penguin at all. It is a bird called the
common loon! Now that he knows who they are, the Nature Detective can’t wait to
learn more! Fortunately, the newest Highland Wonders Podcast is out, featuring Daniel
and Ginger Poleschook, so Jack and everyone he knows can learn about common loons
and what we all can do to protect them.