After shifting nesting rafts around Crooked Lake for the past five years, we finally found the sweet spot! In mid-June, after much scrutiny, a loon pair finally boarded one of the two Rocky Point nesting rafts located there. To be sure, it’s late for any loon nest (with most area loon families done nesting for the season) but still time for chick raising by fall.
Caretaker Beth Stewart says the loons are very dedicated to the nest (rare for new nesters), at one point throwing the loon parents’ equivalent of a fit when canoers entered the cove. Beth had two buoys out, but decided to place two more to better mark off the area and caution any boaters or paddlers to keep their distance from the raft.
Critical to this effort were Beth Stewart (and the Stewart family), for installing the two rafts and buoys, and monitoring the loons’ progress; Brad Hersey for scouting the area over the last two years, and playing loon calls, particularly the territorial male yodel, to which these loons responded, signaling their interest in breeding; Susan Lange and Ron Pool for helping me install rafts in previous Crooked Lake sites; and Little Traverse Conservancy for their cooperation and continued commitment to maintaining preserves, such as the one adjacent to this nesting area. These loons also owe their new home to everyone listed to the left of this column who donated, gathered donations, purchased rafts and buoys, or volunteered in the Looncorps effort. Thanks to them, we really are realizing the fulfillment of the “Restore” part of our continued mission.
When the years-old Crooked Lake project began, I considered it a long shot, uncertain whether any loons at all maintained any interest in nesting here, particularly when inquiries turned up no person having any memory of loons nesting or seeing loon chicks. Certainly loons once nested on Crooked Lake, as well as nearly all lakes in Northern Michigan, but how long ago is anyone’s guess, and Crooked has been fairly-heavily developed for a long time, and sees more than its share of watercraft traffic.
So this is huge news for us, and big for Crooked Lake. Certainly anything could happen, especially given the death of the nesting female loon on nearby Pickerel Lake shortly after taking to a new nest raft there, also a first nesting in anyone’s memory. But, both lakes have seen nesting again after a long nest-less interval; Crooked having its loon pair, and Pickerel still home to a territorial male, who, we hold every hope, will find a new mate soon.
More loon news to come…with pictures, and video.