loon flapping

Loon Life


Loon Issues

What can you do? Loons face many threats. Your actions can help protect these beautiful birds.


Loon Voices

Generations of North Country visitors have been enchanted by the calls loons reserved for lakeside summers. At any time, day or night a loon's powerful voice might echo through the bays and islands of some misty lake. The calls are haunting, sometimes mournful, and always wild. They also have meaning. For loons, four basic calls convey specific messages.


Loon Fun Facts


MAY

1ST WEEK

Depending on the timing of the ice out, many male loons may already be on the lakes. Females follow shortly.

2ND WEEK

Pairing up time! Loon courtship displays consist of subtle postures, bill dipping and shallow diving. Echoing calls are a nightly event.

3RD WEEK

Loons select islands or secluded bays for their homes, often the same site used in previous years. The nest is built near waters edge, because many adults can't walk well on land.

loon mom4TH WEEK

Usually, two eggs are laid one day apart. The parents alternate incubating the eggs for about a month. While one tends the nest the other one fishes.

5TH WEEK

Memorial day weekend is a dangerous time for loons: too many boats and people. Loons may abandon their nests if people come too close.


JUNE

1ST WEEK

Parents will not leave their nest for long unless disturbed by humans. Hungry predators keep a watchful eye for unattended eggs.

2ND WEEK

Many loons either have no partner or have one, but don't nest. These loons may be seen socializing, and wandering.

3RD WEEK

The hatching date of chicks is approaching. People must resist the temptation to get too close to the nest. Boat wake can wash the eggs off the nest.

baby loon4TH WEEK

Chicks hatch one or two days apart and are escorted by the parents to the nursery, a shallow, calm secluded cove. Peace and quiet is essential.

5TH WEEK

Fuzzy, black chicks often ride their parents backs to stay warm, conserve energy and keep safe from predators.


JULY

1ST WEEK

Parents fish steadily to feed themselves and their chicks. Any disturbance of this activity hinders the loon's ability to provide for its young.

2ND WEEK

People, people everywhere and nowhere to hide the chicks. Loons do a warning "penguin dance", but this leaves chicks unprotected and the parents exhausted.

3RD WEEKloon>

Chicks are born to parents who re-nested after their first nests failed. Three week old chicks turn chocolate brown.

4TH WEEK

Parents encourage chicks to catch their own food by dropping fish in shallow water for the youngsters to capture. Chicks reach a third of their adult size.

5TH WEEK

Chicks become adolescents and gray contour feathers emerge. They are left alone for short periods while their parents fish and socialize.


AUGUST

1ST WEEK

Chicks are two thirds adult size and beginning to support themselves, although they still beg for food

2ND WEEK

August is the best time for cautious loon watching from a distance. Unfortunately, with fishing season in full swing, some chicks mistake fishing bait for an easy meal and are injured by hooks and line.

loon swimming 3RD WEEK

Parents leave their chicks for extended periods. It's almost time for the youngsters to strike out on their own.
 

4TH WEEK

Adults teach chicks to fly by practicing takeoffs. Chicks row with their wings and paddle with their feet back and forth across the lake. It will soon be time to leave the lake for winter.


SEPTEMBER

1ST WEEK

Adults leave their young and gather to social groups of 3 to 200 or more loons. They feed intensively and rest in preparation for migration.

2ND WEEK

Young loons remain on the natal lake or fly to nearby lakes to find other juveniles.

3RD WEEK

Loon chicks born early reach adult size. Chicks born late (mid July through August) may not be old enough by ice time to fly south and will perish.

4TH WEEK

Adults begin to migrate, at flight speeds of 60 -100 M.P.H., to warmer coastal areas. Juveniles follow later and remain in the south for two or more years.