Yesterday’s posting asked whether a loon rising out of the water and flapping its spread wings represented preening or aggression. A brochure, Learn to Read the Signs, from the Loon Preservation Committee says that the loon uses the wing flapping for each purpose. To distinguish them, one has to read the loon’s behaviour: had it been preening, or had it shown other signs of stress?
I saw no preening prior to the wing-flapping display, but it did go on to show another sign of stress: sinking low in the water so as to become inconspicuous. It could well have been my presence that prompted the loon’s actions. On the other hand, I was on the bank when the loon came swimming by. It probably had not expected someone to be there. The loon and I then just wandered off in different directions.
A loon sinks in the water, apparently to make itself less conspicuous.