About 10 years ago or so, I was flyfishing on Pennask Lake in BC, when I saw something I will never forget. I am only letting bayblab readers know about Pennask cause I'm such a nice guy. It is probably the best fishing spot I have ever been to. The rainbow trout are small but plentiful and they jump half a meter out of the water on such a regular basis it can sound like it's raining.
In any case, a friend and I were sitting in our bellyboats as the sun was going down on a perfectly still lake. We were waiting our friends with the motor boat to pick us up to head back to camp. We had drank many beers, of course since that's part of fishing, when 2 meters in front of us two loons broke the surface of the water and did some crazy aggressive posing thing. It was bizzare. Both birds streched out their wings and pecked at each other but never actually hit each other. It also looked somewhat synchronized. One then went underwater and the other followed, then they would pop up not too long afterwards, again fairly close and repeated their display.
We had come to the conclusion that we had witnessed some sort of courting ritual. That is until I heard this past Saturday's Quirks and Quarks. Apparently loons will fight to the death over territory and Pennask is some good territory. This is a recent discovery that affirms the fact that I was pretty lucky to witness it. Especially so close.
Check out the video of two loons battling. The ones that I saw, as I said, weren't nearly as aggressive, no pecks actually landed, and I thought what I saw was a bit synchronized, but generally this is what I saw.
Here is a link to the paper on loon fighting. Apparently they often drown during battles.
Pretty cool behavior for the animal on the Canadian dollar coin.
Here is a link to the Quirks and Quarks episode that talked to Dr. Piper. There is an mp3 file there of an interview.