Skip to main content

Here's what to do if you see a baby loon by itself this summer

Boating season is a stressful time for loons.
The loon chick that was brought into the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.

The loon chick that was brought into the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC) shared a story on its Facebook page Monday as advice for anyone who may encounter a loon chick this summer. 

A loon chick who was just days old came to the WRC after it was found alone on the shoreline of Lake Owasso near Roseville. 

The clients who brought in the baby loon "had done everything right" – after spotting the little loon, they left if for the loon's parents. After 24 hours, they decided to bring the chick to the WRC in Roseville, the post said. 

The WRC kept the loon overnight and gave it supportive care while the clients looked for the loon's parents. After they found them, they picked up the loon to try to reunite it with its parents. 

"Following our instructions, they slowly approached in a canoe and once the adult loons heard the young loon peeping, the clients placed the loon in the water and were thrilled to see it swim toward the parents," the WRC's post said. 

The loon chick reunited with its parents on Lake Owasso.

The loon chick reunited with its parents on Lake Owasso.

The WRC said the loon is much better off with its wild family because loons are "notoriously hard to raise in captivity." In fact, the WRC says it is one of the few centers that has successfully done it. 

"Loon babies are very fragile and can easily die from stress," the WRC said.

Not a happy ending

However, this story doesn't end with a happy ending. The loon was found dead Monday evening after the clients noticed the loon's parents were in distress and without the loon chick. 

"The little chick was found deceased a few hours ago," the WRC wrote in a comment on the original Facebook post. "Our hearts break for the loons and the wonderful clients who did everything possible to give the loon a good chance at life."

The WRC did a necropsy on the chick, finding "several interesting things," all of which could have contributed to the loon's death. Among them: head trauma that wasn't there when the chick was initially brought to WRC, the start of a bone infection, and a stomach ulcer. 

"These issues could have been somehow apparent to the adults, but would not have shown in our exams or likely even in lab work," the post said. "These complicating issues, combined with the stress from the past couple days and the head trauma, were probably all it took for this fragile chick to die."

Although the chick didn't make it, the WRC said it hopes sharing the story will help save other loons this summer. 

If you find a baby loon alone

Loon chicks can get easily separated from their parents, but that doesn't mean you have to rescue the chick right away – they're better off in the wild without their parents than at a wildlife center.

So, if you do find a loon chick or a swan cygnet, leave it be if it's in a safe area and uninjured. Check back on the young bird – if its parents haven't found it yet, safely contain the bird in a covered container and then that evening seek out the parents. 

When the parents are found, lower the bird into the water facing the parents and stay completely still. Once they begin swimming toward each other, slowly back away.

But make sure you have the correct family. With both loons and swans, choosing the wrong family can result in the baby being killed. 

"Pay attention to the loon and swan families on your lake now to learn their territories and the number of babies. That knowledge could help you reunite the family down the road," the post said.

Keep loons safe while boating

Boating season is a stressful time for waterfowl, especially young loons who cannot dive under the water, the WRC notes. Too much activity around them can cause them to get separated from their parents.

Here are a few things the WRC asks people to do to protect Minnesota's state bird:

  • When boating, give loons a "very wide birth." Assume all loons have one or two chicks nearby, even if you don't see them.
  • If you see people harassing loons, snap a photo of their boat registration and report it to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources right away.
  • Observe no-wake zones and if loons are crossing a channel in front of you, stop and allow them to cross. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 2.12.05 PM

Changes at K102's Chris Carr & Company, with Sam Sansevere joining as co-host

She is the daughter of former KQRS morning show personality Bob Sansevere.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 1.16.21 PM

Minneapolis' Royal Foundry Craft Spirits announces closure

The distillery set out to infuse the Minneapolis craft cocktail scene with British flavor.


Shutterfly to cut almost 100 jobs at Shakopee facility

The layoffs are expected to impact multiple positions within the company.


Mill City Museum in the running to be named best history museum in the U.S.

The museum offers scenic views of the Mississippi River.


Man charged with attempted murder of White Bear Lake police officer

Daniel Holmgren Jr., 33, was being served an arrest warrant at the time of the incident.


Gallery: 1,000-acre Wisconsin resort listed for nearly $4.3M

The lush landscape features a creek and private lake.


scared dog

Keeping your pet safe and calm during fireworks, summer events

Pets are more sensitive to loud noises, and fireworks are known to stress out many dogs.

rochester pool

Rochester pools closed due to fights, disregard for pool rules

Other swimming areas in Minnesota are struggling to hire lifeguards.


Young loon reunites with mother on Twin Cities lake after rescue from fishing litter

Rescuers say the loon's story highlights the threat of improperly disposed fishing tackle on Minnesota lakes.

hennepin county sheriff water patrol lake minnetonka

Boating season begins as ice-out is declared on Lake Minnetonka

An ice-out is declared on Lake Minnetonka when officials can clear all bays and channels without ice obstruction.