A baby loon from a Maine lake was reunited with its parents this week after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from its foot.
Little Jordan, as he's named, hatched in late July to two loon parents on Messalonskee Lake in Oakland.
Last Friday, Gary Bennett, who owns Snow Pond Cruises and gives tours of the lake, was out on the water when he noticed something growing on Jordan's foot.Baby
"The loon came right up to the boat, uncharacteristically close, and I looked down," said Bennett. "I could see some sort of abscess on his foot."
Bennett took some pictures of the abnormality and sent them to Avian Haven, a bird rescue organization in Freedom, Maine.
Experts there determined the abscess was actually a large tumor.
"They called me back and said, 'this loon's got to be rescued, can you do it?'" Bennett recalled. "I really feel that baby was asking for my help."
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
On Saturday, Bennett went back out on the boat and managed to get Jordan into a box.
"It made me feel bad," said Bennett, who explained the parent loons were upset about being separated from their young.
Neighbors even called Bennett saying they heard the adult loons calling loudly that night in an abnormal way.
"I basically stole their baby," he said.
The stressful situation was not in vain.
Within 48 hours, Avian Haven had removed the tumor, though it required removing Jordan's middle toe, as well.
By that Sunday night, the young loon was ready to be returned to the lake.
"They called me back at 5 and said, 'Jordan came through the surgery just fine, and we were wondering what your schedule looks like tomorrow, because if you can, we'd like you to give him back to his parents,'" said Bennett. "I said, 'Of course!'"
Monday, Bennett called up the same tour group that was with him when he rescued Jordan and brought the bird back to its parents.
He described it as an emotional moment that made some people in the boat cry, because the parents and baby loon called out to each other almost immediately.
"It was just magical from there on out," he said. "Everybody loves a loon."
Bennett says Avian Haven is now having Jordan's tumor tested for disease, but veterinarians are "very optimistic" it is benign.
Their results are expected within weeks.