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Loon Chicks

posted Jul 31, 2018, 7:13 AM by WLA Loon Person   [ updated Jul 31, 2018, 3:31 PM ]

How wonderful to watch the loon chick for the past weeks grow quickly and begin to dive for short periods. 
As of Sunday, July 29, all was well. Monday morning 5 loons were congregating on the lake. There was no way to discern who was who. The chick was no where to be found- assumed to be hiding. Tuesday morning the pair were seen on the north side of the lake without the chick. Several neighbors actively searched for the chick for several hours. 

Finally, at 11:30 am Diana Hanssen found the chick as it was reunited with its parent...and all is as it should be. 

It Takes a Village

posted Jul 12, 2018, 7:44 AM by WLA Loon Person   [ updated Jul 15, 2018, 5:09 PM by Washington Lake Association ]

(Click on picture for larger view)

So many Island Pond residents and visitors are interested in loons, observe loons, and are ready to help, when needed or asked, to lend a hand to aid these protected birds. Thanks to all who responded quickly to the most recent calls of duty. 

There are many stages of success in the life of a summer loon; the loons return to their lake, the pair bonds, the nest is made, the eggs are layed, the eggs hatch....and then the challenging part begins. 

Two small fuzzy chicks, that fit in the palm of a hand, are water bound in a few hours of hatching. Loon parents are on guard, protecting their chicks from all dangers and predators that come their way; boat strikes, snapping turtles, bald eagles, large fish, and yes, even other loons. And those who love loons watch with great anticipation, and some trepidation, as the drama unfolds one day at a time.  

In less than 24 hours a rogue loon appeared to challenge the male. Our male responded forcefully and powerfully, as he shot across the water toward the interloper. The rogue quickly retreated knowing he would not win the battle. 

Two days later, on July 11, a beautiful sunny, peaceful, summer morning unfolded.  The new chicks were near the public boat launch on the south side of the lake. All were swimming together quietly when one of the chicks began pecking at the other. Not overly aggressively- though two or three times. The pecked chick drifted away from the family unit. An observer watched while the chick went under water and seemingly...disappeared!  The observer watched and waited but didn’t see the chick resurface. The parents continued on their way, nonplussed, with just one chick...the observer waited, watched, and looked but couldn’t find the missing chick. 

In the middle of that afternoon, hundreds of feet from the boat launch, on dry land, in the road, a loon chick was found by a passerby - very much alive. After the chick was collected, placed in a box, and phone calls made to authorities, the loon chick was reunited with its father and sibling. The sibling, that was sitting on its father’s back, slipped off and began pecking at the returned chick. (Not uncommon behavior) The father called out to the mother - who appeared quickly from afar and restored peace to the family unit. The family of four continued on with the day as if nothing happened and were seen later, after sunset, with both chicks peacefully sleeping on the mother’s back. 

Morning broke on July 12 to find both chicks with their parents. A rogue loon flew in mid-morning but was quickly chased off by the male. Each parent then had a chick on their back. They were apart from each other for hours, in different places on the lake, with no communication between them. Each parent feeding the chick they were with.  At three in the afternoon the larger chick started aggressively pecking  at the other. The battered chick took cover next to the shore and hid for hours. 

Later in the early evening, near Helen’s Island, the parents were seen feeding one chick. The second, smaller chick was discovered on a rock next to the shore at “Johnson Point” near where it was hiding all afternoon ( and consequently, not fed). After consultation with the loon biologist the chick was retrieved and reunited with the family. It immediately climbed on the male’s back and the family of four continued on its way. The best chance of a chick’s rehabilitation is with its parents. It is not uncommon for a larger sibling to try and injure and drown it’s weaker sibling. It will be remarkable if this smaller chick pulls through considering the ongoing abuse and lack of food. 

Friday, July 13 was no different for the smaller chick; the day was much like the one before. Ongoing abuse from the stronger chick, separation from the family unit, and therefore lack of food. There was no denying the inevitable despite the well intentions of those who did all things humanly possible to give this littlest chick the best chance of surviving. And so, by late afternoon, it was clear the family unit was minus one. 

The remaining chick is well fed, growing quickly and has its parent’s undivided attention; hopefully that’s all it needs to reach maturity. 

(Click on picture for larger view)


posted Jun 29, 2018, 11:21 AM by WLA Loon Person   [ updated Jul 15, 2018, 5:06 PM by Washington Lake Association ]

July 7, on a magnificent summer day with temperatures in the seventies, when the late afternoon begins to turn to early evening the loon pair led their two chicks off the nest and on to Island Pond. Most know about the dangers of loon chicks surviving these early months- the pressures are great and on Island Pond the survival rate is only 10%. 

(Click on picture for larger view)

It’s best to view our loon family from a distance. The loons will communicate when they feel threatened. 
Please be mindful of their warning signs that you are too close; squared off brow, stretched neck, lying flat in the water, warning calls, wing flaps, and a “penguin dance” by rearing up in the water and rapidly paddling their feet, moving toward the threat.  If any of these behavior are exhibited, please, back away immediately. 

As stated on the LPC ( website; 
Enjoy the loons by keeping a respectful distance and allow them to focus on caring for themselves and feeding their chicks. 
Boat slowly in the vicinity of loons and stop at least 150 feet away. Let the loons decide how close they wish to be and do not pursue a loon or loon family for a closer view. 
Use binoculars to observe loons without getting too close and causing them to swim away. 
And please educate those on the lake who may not be aware of loon etiquette. 

(Click on picture for larger view)


Second Chance

posted Jun 28, 2018, 4:42 PM by WLA Loon Person

The loon pair is nesting for the second time this season ( see earlier post, Interrupted ). If all goes well, the chicks should hatch between July 6-8. 

Juvenile Loon

posted Jun 28, 2018, 4:35 PM by WLA Loon Person   [ updated Jul 12, 2018, 6:35 PM ]

On Tuesday, June 26, a juvenile loon was seen (acting typically) near the association beach. Juvenile loons, with scalloped patterned feathers of brown and white, take two and a half years to develop their breeding plumage- the black and white patterned feathers most familiar. 
At nine that evening there was quite a bit of commotion (territorial loon calls). The next day the juvenile was found lifeless, floating in the water, near the mooring area. The body was collected and delivered to the LPC. The necropsy results from Tufts will be posted when received. 
It is always disappointing  to find a dead loon killed by another loon- but that is nature’s expected course. Sadder still to find one killed by a boat strike or poisoned by lead fishing tackle-the largest known cause of loon mortality and 100% avoidable. According to the LPC, “even a single small lead split shot sinker is fatal to loons and (they) will die in 2-4 weeks.” Lead poisoning has reduced NH’s loon population by 43%.
If you haven’t already cleaned out your tackle boxes and disposed of your lead sinkers and jigs, please,  let this be a reminder to do so. 

The initial necropsy report indicated that the immature loon died of blunt-force trauma most likely caused by a boat strike. It also showed that the loon had aspergillosis ( a fungal disease) that can be fatal. 


posted Jun 1, 2018, 6:10 PM by WLA Loon Person   [ updated Jun 28, 2018, 4:00 PM ]

The loons were off the nest on Tuesday, May 29. No eggs or egg 
fragments were found in the nest leaving no clue to what may have happened. (An otter was spotted on the island a day later so that may be the reason.)

It is early in the season and the pair may try again. Let’s hope so. 


posted May 22, 2018, 6:14 PM by WLA Loon Person   [ updated May 23, 2018, 6:02 PM ]

Island Pond’s loons have begun the nesting
 period that lasts between 28-30 days. Both sexes build the nest and incubate the eggs; the female typically spends the night on the nest. 

Loons are easily disturbed during this time and may abandon their nests if interrupted, leaving the eggs vulnerable and at risk. It’s important that if you happen on a nesting loon back away quickly and quietly so as not to interrupt this sensitive nesting period. 

Click on the image for a much better viewing experience!

Head On

posted Apr 29, 2018, 1:16 PM by WLA Loon Person   [ updated Apr 30, 2018, 5:54 AM ]

A first look at one of this year’s residents. 

(photo courtesy of Charles Johnson)

Loons Return 2018

posted Apr 26, 2018, 1:52 PM by WLA Loon Person   [ updated Apr 27, 2018, 3:54 AM ]

APRIL 26, 2018

Location Location Location

posted Apr 26, 2018, 1:49 PM by WLA Loon Person   [ updated May 23, 2018, 6:04 PM ]



It all comes down to location. Where a loon decides to build a nest has a lot to do with the success of hatching eggs. If it’s prone to human or animal disturbance the loons may abandon the nest and leave the eggs unprotected. If the nest is too close to the water’s edge and the spring rains are relentless then the nest is vulnerable to flooding. Loons prefer to make their nests on islands or in sheltered and hidden places. They use grasses, pine needles and twigs to make a roughly formed shallow bowl and typically lay two eggs. 

This spring the loons were seen gathering plant material from the bottom of the lake and placing it in an uncovered area on the shore. It was close to houses and quite visible. They eventually suspended their nest building and abandoned the idea all together. The summer of 2017 did not produce a successful nesting and so, unfortunately, it was one without chicks. 

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