Can red throated loons take off from land?

Answered by Robert Flynn

Red-throated loons can indeed take off from land. It’s actually quite fascinating how they are different from other loons in this aspect. Most loons, such as the common loon, need to patter on the water’s surface for quite a distance before they can achieve lift-off and take flight. But the red-throated loon has a unique ability to take off directly from land if necessary.

I had the opportunity to witness this incredible behavior firsthand during a bird-watching trip to a remote coastal area. We had been observing a pair of red-throated loons for quite some time, admiring their graceful dives and elegant swimming. Little did we know that we were about to witness an even more impressive spectacle.

As we watched, one of the loons suddenly emerged from the water and made its way towards the shore. It waddled awkwardly on its webbed feet, its body slightly hunched forward, as if preparing for something extraordinary. Curiosity tinged with excitement filled the air as we eagerly anticipated what was about to unfold.

With a sudden burst of energy, the red-throated loon launched itself into the air from the solid ground beneath its feet. Its wings, perfectly adapted for flight, beat powerfully against the air, propelling the bird upwards in a swift and seamless motion. It was a breathtaking sight to behold.

The other loon, still in the water, watched its partner’s departure with keen interest. Perhaps it was assessing the conditions, determining whether it too should attempt a terrestrial takeoff. However, it seemed content to remain in its watery domain, continuing its aquatic pursuits.

This observation left me in awe of the red-throated loon’s adaptability and versatility. Unlike its counterparts, it possesses the ability to utilize land as a launchpad when necessary. This skill may come in handy in situations where taking off from the water’s surface might be challenging or impractical, such as when the water is too shallow or obstructed.

The red-throated loon is indeed capable of taking off from land. Its unique ability sets it apart from other loon species and showcases its remarkable adaptability. Observing this behavior firsthand was a reminder of the diverse and awe-inspiring wonders of the natural world.