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2/22/2007

Rare loon deaths in New Hampshire faze scientists

More Mysterious Bird Deaths
New Hampshire, USA

Feb 20, 2007
Scientists are struggling to explain the rare death of 17 loons in New Hampshire, saying warm weather may have confused the threatened species of bird which typically heads to the ocean for winter. The 17 represented about 3 percent of New Hampshire's loon population. Twenty-two male and female Great Northern Divers, known as Common Loons, were found on Saturday and Sunday on Lake Winnipesaukee, many them covered in snow from wind gusts, with their heads tucked into their wings to keep warm. Biologists are unclear why the loons congregated on the ice deep in New Hampshire when they normally migrate to open water in winter. "This is the first time I ever have seen this. It's UNPRECEDENTED." Five birds that survived were transported to the ocean and released. Initial evidence suggests that the loons were in the process of molting new flying feathers, an annual event that usually happens after the birds have migrated for the winter. Last winter, large expanses of the lake did not fully freeze, and some of the loons did not migrate to the ocean. The stranded loons may have stayed at the lake last year as well.
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