A common loon in Superior National Forest in Minnesota, USA
© Jim Brandenburg/Minden Picture
Ready for take-off. A birdwatcher's heaven
This common loon is spreading its wings in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, near the US border with Canada. As temperatures cool, the protected area becomes a birdwatcher’s paradise as migrating flocks stop over on their flights south. The huge forest, which has more than 2,000 lakes, offers the right combination of water, woods, and wetlands to support more than 155 species of birds.The common loon, known for its haunting hoots and wails, holds a special place here as the state bird of Minnesota. These skilled swimmers live mostly in the water and can dive 200ft in pursuit of fish. They're impressive in the air too, reaching speeds of 70 mph. But to get aloft, loons need a long runway of open water. Flapping their wings like mad, they run on the water's surface for up to a quarter of a mile to get the ‘oomph’ needed for take-off.