Sandhill Crane Film Presentation

crane-and-chick Wednesday, Sept 14, at 6pm, my 45-minute film, The Dance of the Sandhill Crane, will be shown at the Cheboygan Public Library for the Straits Area Audubon Society chapter. This new film follows one sandhill crane family through the nesting season, and informs viewers where the population stands today, after coming back from extremely low numbers in the 1940s. I will take questions about cranes, loons, or anything related after the film. DVDs of the film are available for purchase for $15.

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PCLA Meeting

pcla logoLee Anne and I attended the August meeting of the Pickerel-Crooked Lakes Association held at the Inland Water Route Historical Museum in Alanson Saturday morning. I shared a brief account of our breeding loon restoration plan for the Round, Crooked, and Pickerel lakes chain, specifically the installation of new nesting rafts in strategic locations around the lakes to replace nesting sites lost or developed in the past.

Sticking around for the rest of the meeting, I was especially impressed with how this group encouraged their member lake residents to develop greenbelt zones along their lakeshores, which reduce erosion, filter runoff into the lake, and discourage loitering geese. Learning stuff like this is one of the many benefits to joining PCLA, making the nominal membership fee more than worth the money.

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The Uncommon Loon Film Presentation

 My film, The Uncommon Loon, will be shown in its entirety at the U of M Biological Station Sunday, August 7, at 7:30 PM. This locally made film features one family of common loons on Round Lake near Petoskey, and includes much of the flora and fauna that inhabit or visit the marsh in the […]

New Round Lake Pair?

Loon Rd Raft 2012Three years ago, several Round Lake residents reported a flurry of loon activity; blood-curdling calls, etc… lasting much of the night, a day or two before the loon eggs were scheduled to hatch. Sure enough, the next morning, the sitting loons were off the nest, having left the two unhatched eggs behind. It would seem a serious fight had taken place during the night. Since then, loons had returned to Round Lake, but none had attempted to nest. Round Lake appeared to be in breeding purgatory: where ownership of the territory was in transition. We all wondered whether any of the loons, once they began nesting again, would consist of either of the former pair. The female had been banded in 2010, the male in 2012, along with all chicks from those nesting seasons.

Well, it seems that neither of those previously tagged loons claim any ownership of the Round Lake territory. Damon McCormick from Common Coast visited the lake in mid-April, observed a loon pair, one of which was a yodeling male, and remained on the site long enough to tell neither wore any leg bands. We’ll know, of course, for sure once these or any loons take up nesting there. But from this observation, it would seem Round Lake has a brand new territorial loon pair. Ron Pool placed the nesting raft last week, so we’re hopeful nesting is in the works this season.

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Joe and Chris and a banded Round Lake female

New Nest Raft Look

IMG_0325In early April Ron and Lori Pool and I build three new loon nesting rafts for breeding lakes throughout Northwest Michigan, one for a Grand Traverse County lake, one near Charlevoix, and one for Thumb Lake. Rafts this season are lighter, using schedule 30 rather than the heavier schedule 40, have a pleasant aqua color, and have a foam center with a foil backing, which should prevent flaking. We did the prep work for 2 additional rafts, which was a good thing because I took an order for another lake near Traverse since IMG_20160409_122909124 we’d finished. Thanks to Ron and Lori for their time and donation of materials, and to their landscaping business, Northern Greenlawn North, for the heated garage we used.

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2015’s Greatest Success

05#-Crooked Lk Loons-5x7When John Lehman stopped by today to bring the latest donations from the Donation Canisters he monitors, I realized I’d meant to update our supporters and readers of our 2015 projects. I was going to highlight all of the successes Looncorps has had in 2015, but rather than try to list them, making this an exhausting list of things you’ve most likely read about already, I’m just going to say the Crooked Lake loon story is, by far, the most unexpected good news of the year.

In short, after several years placing nesting rafts on various places around the lake (some still in position and awaiting prospecting loons), a loon pair nested in the Rocky Point cove where two rafts had been placed in spring of 2015 (one a leftover from 2014). The loons laid and hatched two eggs, and successfully raised and fledged both chicks to migrate in the fall. This is the first nesting of loons on this lake in decades. Especially great news is that the two chicks fledged last season, and all subsequent chicks will all likely return to Crooked Lake in the future to seek nesting as breeding adults. Rafts already await them.

Frankly, I was going to try and mention names of those involved in this success, but instead will direct you to previous posts on this site for you to review. I’m afraid of leaving someone out. Let me also thank all the people, businesses, and organizations listed on Looncorps’ website, along the left-hand column (under Donation Canister Locations and Looncorps Supporters) for their help and contributions to this effort. When you visit them, or their places of business, know they are making a difference in preserving and recovering loon nesting habitat in our area.

Watch For Loons

unnamed (5)This is one year to watch out for any loons left on inland lakes. Our lakes are very late in freezing this season and loons have been seen on Crooked, Round, Burt, etc… recently. As these lakes freeze with the coming cold, loons left on them, especially immatures,  might find themselves trapped by closing ice. Adding to this trouble is the fact that, though loons have been molting for some time now, up till now these have been feathers not used for flight. Soon however, loons will molt their flight feathers, which normally occurs after they’ve reached their wintering grounds. Loons that have hung back on inland lakes are in severe danger if this molt occurs before leaving, because then they’re flightless for 6-8 weeks, meaning when the lakes freeze, they’ve nowhere to go. In 2007, 17 loons died on a New Hampshire lake because they stayed too long.

So, as lakes freeze, keep on the lookout for any trapped loons this season. It’s very dangerous to rescue birds on newly frozen ice and partially frozen lakes, so report any stranded loons you see to this site.

OIAS Loon Film Presentation

Grand Haven UCLLast week I traveled to Grand Haven to show my film The Uncommon Loon to the Owashtanong Islands Audubon Society. The Public Library room was filled, and these people were great to talk to. Audience members donated generously to my Loon Buoy Fund and bought nearly all the dozen DVDs I’d brought. Great night. Also, events coordinator, John Mcaree, and I discussed placing loon nesting rafts on a lake or two in the Newago area, hopefully boosting the expansion of Michigan Loons’ southern nesting range.

I arrived early, so to pass the time while the group wrapped up their board meeting, I attended the pumpkin carving demonstration by the Lord of the Gourd, in the hallway outside the room. Amazing talent of Pat Harrison. DSC02015DSC02017

Blue Lake Saga

In early August I got a call from Christine Almose of Kalkaska County’s Blue Lake. She’s worried that her male loon has a hook in its mouth because it’s trailing a long fishing line strand and seems to have difficulty eating. Do I know anyone who can help? I do but they live in the U.P. […]

Filming Dr Timm’s Pipeline 5 Presentation

Dr TimmI’ll be traveling to the Cheboygan Public Library on Wednesday, September 30 to film Dr. Ed Timm’s discussion on Enbridge’s Pipeline 5 that runs through the Straits of Mackinac. Dr. Timm is prepared to show, according to Enbridge’s own figures, why the pipeline is even more corroded than they publicly admit. So what, do you ask, does Pipeline 5 have to do with loons? First of all, a fairly high population summers on the Great Lakes each year. Also, loons nesting inland, yet in proximity to any Great Lakes shoreline (French Farm, Round Lake, etc…), travel back and forth, perhaps several times a day, to feed. An oil spill will have obvious calamitous effects on these birds, and long before any emergency spill response task force can prevent it.

So, please join us, if you can, at the Cheboygan Library at 100 So. Bailey at 6pm this Wednesday. See you there.