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Watching Loons

Sticky_Common Loon and Chick (Brian Lasenby 123RF)-1

While loons are a prominent and conspicuous presence on northern lakes, they can be susceptible to disturbance, especially while they are nesting. Therefore, it is important to observe them in an appropriate manner to make sure you are not the cause of a nest failure.

Nesting: Loons can not walk on land, so they place their nests right along the shoreline. They prefer islands, when they are available. As a result,these nests are often exposed and susceptible to disturbance. During the month-long incubation period, adults remain vigilant. If they are approached too closely, then they will leave the nest.

How close is too close? Loons vary considerably in the distance that makes them uncomfortable enough to leave the nest. When adults leave the nest, eggs can be exposed to predators from the air such as eagles or from the shore such as foxes. If the adults are forced to stay away too long, the eggs may not stay viable.

To do your part to protect nesting loons, become familiar with nesting areas in our watershed. Often these areas are marked with buoys. Please give these nesting islands a wide berth, at least 75 yards/half the length of a football field, during May, June and early July,until the loons hatch their young. In areas without buoys, avoid protected shoreline, especially marshy areas, where you may see a single loon during the nesting season. The single loon may be an adult fishing and taking a break from incubating the eggs.

To learn more about observing loons click the Loon Watching link!

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