Common Loon Time, Early April 2023

Common Loon

Common Loon zipping past Montrose Point (click to see the larger version)

We’ve been seeing Common Loons at Montrose for over a week. They start to appear in late March and remain regular through late April. Early April is about peak season for them. Sometimes they show up in the harbor, where they’re easy to admire and photograph on the water. More often we see them in flight over Lake Michigan or over the Point and always at a breakneck clip. The best way to describe a Common Loon is a missile with wings – pointed at the front, with a fast, powerful, and direct flight, like they’re in a hurry to get where they’re going. They look lethal on the wing; if one slammed into you, you probably wouldn’t survive. Double-crested Cormorants are similar in size and shape but aren’t as sleek and look ungainly compared to a loon. The nice thing about spring Common Loons is that they’re usually in beautiful breeding plumage when they make it to Chicago. From a distance this isn’t obvious but up close the white striping against the black neck stands out.

If you visit Montrose in April, keep your head on a swivel and look up. A Common Loon may be flying over.