|Mama Loons carry their babies on their backs|
I recently shared with a friend that my Lonnie the Loon books weren’t selling very well in Arizona, and it was probably because they are about a waterfowl that inhabits the lakes in the Northern part of the United States and Canada. There are many gift stores in Minnesota that have placed my Loon books for sale in their shops, but not so in Arizona. My friend asked me, “Why did you write a book about a Loon? Why not an Arizona bird, like…a Cactus Wren?”
Why did I choose a Loon? Because they are fascinating creatures.
The black and white plumage on a Loon looks like they are dressed for special events all the time. It even appears that they are wearing a beautiful necklace made of white shells. A folktale has been told throughout the years that Loons can restore the sight to blind children by carrying them back and forth to the bottom of the lake. A grateful person one day gave a Loon this necklace of shells to hang around its neck for everyone to see.
Cactus Wrens have feathers in basic brown, black, and white – no tuxedos for them. There haven’t been any folktales written about them. They are very small in comparison to a Loon and they looklike all the other birds in my backyard.
Loons spend most of their time on lakes and are excellent swimmers. They feed mostly on fish by diving deep into the water. The Loon’s legs and feet are located very far back on its body, which allows it to be an excellent swimmer, but it has difficulty walking on land. A story from the Finnish culture states that the first Loon didn’t have any legs or feet when it was created. Mother Nature realized her mistake and tossed a pair at the bird as an after thought as it left for earth.
The Cactus Wren builds its nest in cholla cacti, Saguaros, mesquite trees, and paloverdes, all of which have prickly thorns. This protects their nests from predators. For a small bird, they are capable of aggressively protecting their nests and have been seen attacking a squirrel so vigorously that the squirrel became impaled on the cactus thorns.
I chose to write about Loons because they are so different from the Southwestern creatures I grew up with. I like that they are elegant and live on lakes. They are allusive and not aggressive. And I like the way Lonnie the Loon rolls off your tongue when reading to a child. Cathy the Cactus Wren sounds a little harsh. But maybe some day I will write a children’s book about Quincy the Quail – I like Quail.