Lucky loon sought rescue from Alberta campers

Lucky loon sought rescue from Alberta campers

NORDEGG, Alta. — This is a story about one lucky loon.

Don Gibson was standing with his family on a dock in Fish Lake Provincial Park in west-central Alberta last weekend when he noticed a normally standoffish loon — one of a group of five that call the lake home — swimming toward them.

“I said, ‘There’s no way that’s a real loon because they don’t come that close,’” Gibson recalled Friday from his home in Sundre, northwest of Calgary.

“I said, ‘Somebody’s out in the woods playing a trick on us. They’ve got a remote-control bird or something.’”

But as the loon got closer, Gibson could tell it needed help.

A piece of fishing gear with wire leaders and multiple hooks, often referred to as a pickerel rig, had become tangled around the bird’s bill, neck and leg.

Loons are sleek and rely on their diving ability to catch fish, frogs and other water creatures. Seeing the way this one was tangled, it was clear to Gibson that it couldn’t hunt.

The bird kept looking up at the campers on the dock and moved to a shallow area along the shore.

“This one just knew he only had another day and he was going to die. He was just right pooped I think.”

Gibson turned to his 12-year-old son.

“I said, ‘We’ve got to go over there. This thing just sent us a sign that he’s in distress and he wants us to help him.’”

Gibson was leery about the loon’s sharp beak, but the bird lowered its head and allowed him to give it a stroke.

“When he allowed me to pat his head, I said, ‘That’s it. I am taking my shoes off and I’m going in and I am going to help this guy, because he was obviously not afraid of me.’”

Gibson’s wife enlisted the help of a park attendant who had some scissors and they started cutting away the tackle. A hook caught in the back of the bird’s neck came out easily. Gibson then picked up the bird and unwound the line that was wrapped three or four times around its leg.

By then, a fairly large crowd had gathered to watch the rescue.

Gibson put the freed bird back in the water.

As it swam out from shore to rejoin its buddies, it turned back, lifted itself up in the water and gave a flap of its wings as if to say thank you, he said.

Everyone cheered.

“You couldn’t write a fiction novel so perfect.”

Gibson said he saw the five loons feeding on minnows in the lake the next day, so he figures everything worked out fine.

“I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it myself. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was incredible.”

— By Tim Cook in Edmonton

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer rings in the Chinese New Year

A couple hundred fill Festival Holiday to ring in the Year of the Dog

WATCH: From humble beginnings Red Deer-based wrestling promotion is growing

It wasn’t that long ago that Dylon Featherstone and the Canadian Wrestling… Continue reading

Popular Red Deer store to apply for cannabis dealer licence

At least one Red Deer store hopes to sell cannabis out of… Continue reading

Effect of electronics on students to be discussed at Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention

Thousands of area instructors will gather on Feb. 22 and 23 at RDC

WATCH: Polar dippers brave icy water to raise money for Sylvan Lake charities

The water may have been cold, but the amount of money raised… Continue reading

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

WATCH: Polar dippers brave icy water to raise money for Sylvan Lake charities

The water may have been cold, but the amount of money raised… Continue reading

WATCH: Cat yoga — the purr-fect de-stresser, says Red Deer-area cafe owner

Felines and humans stretch together each month at Alley Cat Cafe

Effect of electronics on students to be discussed at Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention

Thousands of area instructors will gather on Feb. 22 and 23 at RDC

Judge critical of sentencing laws

Court of Queen’s Bench justice argues sentencing options for first-degree murder too limited

Liberals write off $200 million in student loans feds will never collect

The federal government is writing off more than $200 million in outstanding… Continue reading

Trudeau takes wing on trade mission to India, where Sikh politics loom

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on his way to India,… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month