Back to the water with you, baby...
Loon legs are built for swimming, placed far back on the body for propulsion through a liquid realm. This is a fantastic adaptation if you are chasing your supper under water, not so good if you get grounded by bad weather or bad luck. Loons and other similar diving birds can't stand up, which makes it impossible to take-off from dry land--or in this case, the shoulder of Stone Harbor Boulevard.
This bird was a bit thin but not emaciated. This shouldn't have been unexpected, actually; both Common (probably what this is; bill shape in photo is deceptive) and Red-necked loons, northern breeding species, overwinter here and this one may have just arrived recently. It also might lose the tip of its bottom bill (which was cracked and bent sideways--looks like it may have crash-landed beak-first), but otherwise it was very feisty. Alas, it was too feisty for closeups. Rats rats rats, because it had the most amazingly rich crimson eyes and really neat feet. (Also, the softest head feathers ever. It was like petting a velveteen rabbit, even softer than my softest cats.)
And it yodeled just like in all the movies... Only even more pitiful: "Doooon't eat me! Put me dooowowowowown! OoooOoooOoooo...."
Very fortunately for me, although it wielded that bill like a saber, unlike herons it didn't go straight for the eyes. Pretty good aim at other body parts, though... Crazy strong, too, and bigger than I remember from the last time I was carrying a loon. (Not that I make a habit of that, but it's just another one of the perks of living at the shore.)
Luckily, it can push itself forward with those feet, which it did very effectively when it realized I had finally put it down about ten feet from a nice big creek in the marsh. Alas, it had to play otter to get into the water because nearly everyone's docks have been destroyed, I hadn't put on my boots--which were, incredibly, in the truck--and I know better than to step onto marsh mud; sank to my thigh once about 30 feet from where I put the loon back.
[Note to self: Add large pet carrier to the collection of stuff riding around in the truck; or, at the very least, just empty the large container holding the odds and ends and use it. (Besides, NJ law now requires animals to be restrained in vehicles; I wonder if anyone noticed the large bird flapping around the cab?) And add a pair of safety glasses to said container. (Never fear, I do not handle things like Great Blue Herons without back-up.)]