It feels like homecoming, with all the birds returning to our area. The latest arrival actually never really left, but changed plumage with the season, and “reappeared.” The common loons are back in their brilliant black and white—hardly common at all.
I love loons for their beauty and haunting calls. Many loons overwinter here, but their winter plumage is very subtle. Several of the two or three varieties that frequent our area look so much alike in winter that the only way we can tell them apart is by looking at their eyes. In summer, their plumage is much more flamboyant, and they call, which they rarely do in the winter. A nature writer once referred to the call of the loon as the essence of wild America.
Their name is also somewhat misleading, because loons aren’t that common. They shun people, and seek out lonely places whenever possible. I submitted a short story to a magazine once, that involved a man’s quest to hear a loon in the wild. The editor, in rejecting it, doubted that it would take someone eight years to hear a loon. For me, it actually took nine years before I could confirm, without a doubt, that I heard a loon in the wild. I couldn’t tell him that—never talk back to a publisher—so I’m telling you. So much for “write what you know.” Had I lived on the homestead then, it would have been a different story. Their presence off our beach lends an air of wild solitude to our homestead.