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Loon not cleared for landing at Duluth garage sale

A loon that was rescued after landing on Minnesota Avenue on Friday swims away after being released in Lake Superior on Saturday. (Adam Jagunich / Fox 21 News)

As loon landings go, this one wasn't pretty.

First the loon bounced off a car, said Robert Midbrod of Superior, who witnessed it. Then it skidded to a rather abrupt stop on Minnesota Avenue during the Park Point Rummage Sale.

The landing occurred about 1 p.m. Friday, said Midbrod,

51, who rescued the hapless critter. Shortly afterward, Midbrod learned something about handling loons.

"They hurt," he said. "I have the scars to prove it, all over my fingers and my knuckles."

Unlike ducks and other waterfowl, loons have their feet set so far back on their bodies that they can't move efficiently on land. Nor can they regain flight.

It isn't unheard of for loons to land on wet pavement, which they mistake for water, said wildlife rehabilitator Peggy Farr of Duluth. Rain was falling in Duluth on Friday.

Midbrod and his wife, Reggie, first tried taking the loon to an emergency veterinarian service, but it was closed. Then they tried the Lake Superior Zoo, which couldn't accept the bird. So they took it to a police station in West Duluth. A police officer delivered the bird to Farr.

Farr placed the loon in a dog kennel on plenty of padding Friday evening. She fed it minnows.

"He had stubbed a couple of toenails, and he had some abrasion along his keel," Farr said. "Sort of a road-rash thing. Other than that, he was one of the feistiest, fattest loons we've ever had."

This was the first loon Farr had received this year as a result of an errant landing.

"Last year, we had seven or eight," she said. "With most of our loons, this is what happens."

Farr and her husband, Farzad, released the bird into Lake Superior early Saturday morning near 21st Avenue East.

"The loon was happy to be back," she said. "He ducked under water and gave a couple of shakes, and off he went."