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Fishing line ensnares Little Sand loon

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Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

This past Saturday, people worked together to help out a loon in trouble on Little Sand Lake.

Dan Kittilson and Vern Thompson came to the aid of a distressed loon that appeared on the shoreline at Mary Bowman's residence. After capturing the bird in a big fishing net, Dan and Vern discovered the loon was entangled in a harness spinner rig.

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"The loon had fishing line wrapped around its beak, including the spinner blade and the beads," Dan wrote. "Both hooks were in the loon's mouth."

While Vern Thompson held the loon, Dan cut the fishing line from around the loon's beak, but when he did, he found yet another obstacle: the loon's long, narrow tongue was also wrapped with monofilament fishing line.

Using a pair of small scissors Mary provided, Dan was able to cut the fishing line without damaging the loon's tongue.

When Dan and Vern attempted to release the loon from the fishing net, the loon momentarily snagged its wing, so the two men then had to free the bird's wing. While this was going on, Dan said, the loon pecked at his shoe to show his dissatisfaction.

Things improved quickly, however, when the loon was free.

"He immediately went out onto the lake and started diving and fishing," Dan said. "I'm sure he was quite hungry."

If there is a moral to this story, Dan said, it is that sportsmen and women should avoid letting thier line and tackle get into our lakes if at all possible.

Dan said he was sorry he did not have a camera to capture some of this dramatic rescue but also said he was glad he didn't have time to get a camera.

Wow. This is story that will have folks talking for some time. Let's hope the loon will catch lots of fish to make up for the days it went without dinner.

Pileated woodpecker

Kay Winter of Park Rapids is a lucky person - she gets to see a family of pileated woodpeckers from her kitchen table.

I know many people are familiar with the appearance and call of these large woodpeckers, but I did a little digging on the Internet to see what else I could learn about them, and this is what I found out:

n Adult pileated woodpecker wingspans measure about 29 inches.

n Pileated woodpeckers drill nesting holes 15-70 feet above the ground in dead wood. For this reason, the birds aren't often found in "intensively managed forests."

n Pileated woodpeckers require fairly large tracts of woods for their nesting territories, from about 150 to 200 acres in many cases, but also up to 1,000 acres. A nesting pair will defend its territory during mating and breeding season, but according to the Cornell University Ornithology Web site, the birds will "tolerate floaters during winter."

For the sake of comparison, a male ruby-throated hummingbird requires about one-quarter of an acre for its territory.

Opposites

Speaking of hummingbirds, Jo Riemenschneider wrote to say she has been watching the "competitive feeding" of about six hummers at her feeders. "When will the hummingbirds be leaving?" she wanted to know.

Last year, most hummingbirds left the meadow by Sept. 8, and I saw my last one Sept. 13 - and I kept my feeders out for about a week after that.

Remember, hummingbirds get their cue to migrate from the amount of daylight we receive, so you do not have to worry about encouraging them to stay by feeding them. In fact, it's important to keep the nectar out so that late bloomer birds can build up the strength and reserves they need to make their long migration.

Wooly bear

The all-black wooly bear caterpillar showed up again, and this time I examined it for the tell-tale red rings visible when a giant leopard moth caterpillar curls up - and I saw nothing. No red at all.

I'm not sure what kind of caterpillar it is.

Thank you to all who wrote with news. When sending your reports, be sure to give your name and a little information on where you made your sighting. Send to maureeng@unitelc.com no later than 8 a.m. Thursdays. If it's easier, feel free to drop a letter by the office, or in the mail.

This column is brought to you by Park Ace Hardware.

Landscaping? Just arrived, large shipment of rocks, patio stepping stones and wall stone with unique and beautiful colors, last shipment for the season.

Open seven days a week, Ace is located on Highway 71 south, Park Rapids, 732-4513. Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.

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