Advice from a Loon
Spend time on the Lake Enjoy a good Swim Call your friends
Surround yourself with beauty Dive into life
What can you do? Loons face many threats. Your actions can help protect these beautiful birds.
- Recreational activities can be a threat if they occur too close to active nests, chick rearing areas or loons on open water.
Understand loon calls and postures, and keep your distance
- Shoreline and island development disturb traditional nesting and nursery areas.
Camp and build away from a loon’s preferred shoreline area
- Poor garbage-disposal practices foster raccoon, crow and gull populations-all loon egg predators.
Recycle, avoid waste, pack out all trash.
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.
The WAIL sounds like a wolf’s howl. Loons wail to contact each other over long distances. This call is usually heard in the evening and often when a loon on the nest wails to exchange places with its mate.
- THE TREMOLO sounds like a quavering laugh and is typically used when loons are annoyed or alarmed. Loons also use the tremolo as a social greeting and when in flight.
- THE YODEL is the most unusual, longest and complex of the loon’s repertoire. Its slow, rising note, followed by several undulating phrases, is given only by the males. The yodel is used either to establish a territory or, when coupled with a “penguin dance” (wings cocked and extended, body raised above the water), to scare away an intruder.
- THE HOOT sound is a soft, intimate, one-note call loons use to communicate with each other and their chicks in close quarters.
Loon Fun Facts
- Do Loons Mate For Life?
Loons do not mate for life in the typical sense that swans and geese do. If both the male and female survive the winter (they migrate separately), they will annually return to the same lake and re-unite. However, a loon’s allegiance is to the nesting lake , not it’s mate. If the last year’s mate fails to return, the loon will select a new mate.
- Loon Enemies:
- Humans (can be worst enemy or best friend)
- Raccoons (attracted by garbage, they patrol shorelines for an easy meal of loon eggs and young chicks).
- Gulls (also a scavenger that eats both eggs and young chicks).
- Ravens and crows (sharp eyed egg robbers).
- Large fish and snapping turtles (eat chicks).
- Intruders Beware
Giving the tremolo call, standing upon the water (penguin dance), rowing with their wings across the water, splashing before a dive, and trying to look large are all desperate maneuvers loons use to distract intruders from a nest or chicks. If not left alone they may abandon their family in helpless frustration.
- The Winter Loon
A winter loon molts to a nondescript gray plumage, rarely calls, loses the red in it’s eye and fishes all day. Its as if the loon reserves it’s charisma for the North Country it symbolizes.
- Do Loons Mate For Life?