HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — They are aquatic birds and apparently a significant group of them ended up in the Poconos as a result of last week’s snow and ice storm.
And now the loons are having trouble leaving.
At the Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center near Stroudsburg, director Kathy Uhler is urging people in northeastern Pennsylvania to keep an eye out for loons on surfaces like driveways, roadsides and parking lots.
If you see one, the bird is stuck.
“Their legs, as you’re going to see, are so far back on their body, they really aren’t meant to stand up and their wings are so short that they can’t take off flying from land,” explained Uhler.
Uhlertells Newswatch 16, the loons arrived here ahead of the recent winter storm. She says these birds are landing on these surfaces because at night, it looks like water.
One guy was found at the end of a driveway in Luzerne County.
“We don’t know how many days he’s been on the ground, so we want to make sure he’s hydrated and has some food before we return it to open water,” said Uhler.
There’s a pond right in front of Pocono Wildlife, but Uhler tells Newswatch 16, she can’t release the bird there because a loon needs a large body of water to take off.
If you come across a loon that is stranded, there’s a certain way you should capture the bird. Just be careful you don’t get near its beak.
“The very first thing is to contain it. Normally, we say call us first but we don’t want them propelling themselves into a situation that could be dangerous. Throw a towel over it, a blanket over it, a coat over it. Then pick the whole thing up and put it in a box. Now, I was wearing protective eyeglasses because they do stab fish with that beak and our eyes are shiny like a fish and we don’t want anyone getting hurt. Otherwise, they really can’t do anything to you,” said Uhler.
Once the loon is secure, you can either drop it off at Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Hamilton Township or call the center at 570-402-0223 and arrange a pickup.