Sunday, April 14, 2013

A story of the loon, its necklace and beautiful voice

Photo by Doug Billings
Loons are the world's oldest bird
This incredible photo of a loon by Bow Narrows angler-photographer Doug Billings was just what I needed to cheer me up on yet another cold spring day. It's good to remember that sooner or later, we will again have open water and see and hear these unique birds on Red Lake.
The loon is the world's most ancient bird species, going back 65 million years ago to the late-Cretaceous period, the last period when dinosaurs still walked the Earth. They have been here about 63 million years longer than humans.
Loons occupy prominent places in a great many First Nations' stories about the creation of the world. Other important creatures are the beaver, turtle and raven.
In the story I have heard, when the Earth was covered by water it was the loon that dove to the bottom of the ocean and brought up soil that was used to create the continents we have today.
For its great service the Creator bestowed upon the loon a beautiful necklace and voice. This made the loon exceedingly proud and it came to feel that it was better than all the other creatures.
To teach the loon a lesson about pride and vanity, the Creator took away its beauty and voice for half of each year.
That is why the loon in its winter habitat off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts and the Gulf of Mexico is a drab gray colour and is silent.
Come spring, it flies northward to the Boreal Forest where it turns back into its beautiful self and fills the air with its magical calls. 
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