Starting to think about the year’s loon nesting season, and just want everyone to know we still need volunteers to put out buoys, nesting rafts, and monitor lakes with nesting loons in Northern Michigan. Please reply here or contact me via email listed on this site if you’re interested. Also need to know who needs more buoys, rafts, etc…to help manage and protect your lake’s loons.
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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 […]
I just want to take a moment to thank the PCLA Board for voting to give Looncorps a very generous donation in summer 2016. We are continuing to make efforts to establish a viable breeding loon population in the Round, Crooked, Pickerel Lakes chain, and hope eventually to have several breeding loon pairs on these lakes. I believe Crooked alone can support three pairs, Pickerel perhaps two pairs, and Round has an outside chance for two.
Currently, Crooked Lake has a solid breeding pair (though nesting wasn’t successful this season as it was in 2015). Two additional rafts have been out here in the last couple years, but have not been used so far. Pickerel had a male die on the nest in 2015, though I’m not sure if that was a nesting loon, or that he boarded the raft because of the stress of the aspergillosis he was afflicted with. Pickerel has two nesting rafts waiting for a breeding pair. Round Lake has suffered a 4-year hiatus in nesting ever since the nesting loons were ejected from their nest in 2013 by intruding loon(s). We’re still waiting for them to sort out who will own the territory. Making multiple nesting sites available on these lakes is important because the young that migrate from here will return some day seeking a territory, and we hope they will select one on or adjacent to the lake they hatched from.
So, thank you PCLA for your very generous donation, and be assured it will go to establish nesting and further the nesting success of loons on the two lakes. This very beneficial group operates from the funds generated by its members. Click here to join this organization.
Three 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.
In 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 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.
When 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.
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.
Last 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.
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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. […]
I’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.
A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of being invited to tour Charlevoix County’s Thumb Lake (AKA Lake Louise). Residents Sue and Bob Korte, who’d visited my shop a couple times, were determined to help their loons by providing a stable nest site. Fluctuating water levels offered only a hit-or-miss prospect for a successful nesting season–more miss than hit–forcing these loons to switch nesting sites based on current water levels, and frequently having their nests flooded, scavenged, or having to deal with human traffic and disturbance.
So, during an enjoyable pontoon ride, shared with a few other concerned residents (and cookies made by Sue), we narrowed down the future nest raft site to two possibilities: one, an island site that unfortunately gets frequent visits by people, and a shallow reedy area that, in low water conditions, becomes a tenuous island. The island site sits across a narrow channel that can easily be cordoned off with a buoy at each entrance and, being situated offshore, reduces access to scavengers, and eliminates potential flooding. Residents will also be asked to avoid using the island while nesting is in progress.
I became interested in Thumb Lake a few years ago when I presented my film, The Uncommon Loon, to their lake association meeting one Saturday. We had talked about a nesting raft since then, and I’m finally glad to see Thumb Lake getting one. Many folks here share Sue and Bob’s concern for their loons and I’m confident this breeding pair is in good hands.