Minnesota's State Bird: Common Loon
I was born in California and moved to Iowa with my parents and younger sister when I was 3. My husband, Ken, was born in a Chicago suburb, but moved to Indiana as a child. So both of us heard crickets in the evening as children and loved to catch fireflies in open fields, even though we lived in different states. Cottontail rabbits were abundant and we saw lots of deer. Oddly, we both knew places to pick wild berries and have lots of fond memories of outdoor adventures as children. There are a lot of similarities amongst states such as Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, but life there is different than life in northern Minnesota!
20 years ago, Ken and I moved our young family from Iowa to Minnesota, and though it was much wilder than Iowa or Indiana and we loved the lakes and forests, we really missed the sound of crickets in July and August. I think we were both surprised at how different life was for us up here. The weather was much colder, with more snow than we had ever seen, and the soil was all clay and rock. There are lots of hills (actually called mountains) and animals such as moose and cougar that we had never lived among previously. But Minnesota has a different beauty. We found some of the creatures here entertaining and very industrious, such as the beaver; and it was at the beaver ponds that we found a new set of noises.
Every June, thousands of frogs (of many different species) would call out (all night) looking for a mate from our beaver pond. The rising and falling of their voices singing out was almost deafening at times and we lovingly called them "Minnesota Crickets."
By mid June, the loons would fly in to make their nests. Loons have the strangest, most unique calls of all the birds we have ever heard. They have a very large repertoire of communication and their loving serenade is one of the most beautiful sounds in the north woods of Minnesota.
There is definitely nothing "common" about the common loon. All day and much of the night, a loon couple will talk with each other as one watches the young. They team parent so they take turns with their different duties. Sometimes they call to each other like two love birds communicating where they are, sometimes to find their way back home, other times they are warning of danger or want to assure each other that everything is okay. The beauty of their communication is so intriguing and unique, it has become ingrained in my mind and now I much prefer it to the crickets of my childhood.
President, Wilderness Family Naturals
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