Loons

Loon Restoration Project

As part of a larger restoration plan, the Restoration of Common Loons in Minnesota project was funded $7.52 million to reduce mortality and increase the number of young loons produced in Minnesota. The plan includes Clearwater, Beltrami, Itasca, Becker, Hubbard, Cass, Crow Wing and Atkin counties, and is focused on the following objectives.

Acquire Loon Habitat Because lakeshore habitat is a crucial part in the life cycle of loons, permanently protecting natural lakeshores will provide quality habitat ensuring loons successfully breeding, nest, forage, and rear young in Minnesota.

Artificial Nesting Platforms (ANPs) Augmenting natural habitat can sometimes be necessary for loon success. ANPs can increase loon productivity when

1) water levels fluctuate during nesting season,

2) significant and recurring predation is occurring, and

3) loons are present but protecting or enhancing natural nesting habitat is limited.

Loon-Friendly Lake Registry A voluntary program that allows communities to make an individual lake Loon Friendly. Enrolling in the program includes working with the MN DNR for implementation.

Loon Watcher Program Volunteers who live on or regularly visit lakes with loons are asked to observe loons at least once per month (May through August) and report their findings at the end of the breeding season.

Because Wabedo and Little Boy lakes are considered “Loon Friendly” lakes, we’ve taken an active role in helping identify critical habitat eligible for the DNR Loon Restoration Land Conservation program. We’re also contacting landowners in an effort to educate them about the importance of their land. If you are interested in applying for the DNR Loon Restoration Land Conservation program, visit Northern Waters Land Trust to read more and fill out a Landowner Application. www.northernwaterslandtrust.org/mn-dnr-loon-restoration-project/

Read the complete details on the MN DNR website: www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/minnesota-loon-restorationproject.html

Loon Counts

We participate in a statewide DNR program to monitor and survey loons and report on the counts of adults and chicks. We watch for nesting loons in May and June. The survey count is taken the first week of July. In August and September, larger "groups" of loons are observed. The adults migrate in early September. Young loons stay at the northern lakes almost until freeze-up. They need to strengthen before heading south.


Loon counts can vary wildly from year to year. Our loon observers diligently watch for and count both adult and back chicks. The chart below depicts the variation from year to year, but also the long-term trend in the counts. Both Little Boy and Wabedo adult loon counts are trending slightly downward. However, the number of baby chicks in each lake is trending slightly upward.

LOON COUNTS.pdf

Wabedo

monitored by Bruce and Mary Jane Black

This data is from pairs that had nests. Wabedo usually has 5-6 pairs of loon occupancy. They stay and guard their own territory even if they are unable to nest or have their nest (eggs) fail.

2021 - 2 adult pairs, 0 chicks

2020 - 3 adult pairs, 4 chicks

2019 - 5 adult pairs, 7 chicks

2018 - 5 adult pairs, 3 chicks

2017 - 4 adult pairs, 7 chicks

2016 - 12 adults, 3 chicks

2014 - 11 adults, 5 pairs, 0 chicks

2013 - 8 adults, 2 nesting pairs and 1 chick

2012 - 11 adults, 2 nesting pairs and 2 chicks

2011 - 22 adults, 5 chicks.

2009 - 10 adults, 4 chicks

2008 - 13 adults, 2 chicks

2007 - 18 adults , 4 chicks. Ten loons were in a group in the middle basin.

2006 - 13 adults, 4 chicks

2005 - 3 adults, 0 chicks

Rice

monitored by Otto/Ann Geisbauer

2009 - 2 adults, 1 chick

2008 - 2 adults, 0 chicks

2007 - 2 adults, 2 chicks

2006 - 2 adults, 0 chicks

2005 - 2 adults, 1 chick

Little Boy Lake

monitored by Ron Stokesbary

2021 - 5 adult pairs, 0 chicks (the least since Ron has been counting)

2020 - 6 adult pairs, 8 chicks (the most since Ron has been counting)

2019 - 6 adult pairs, 4 chicks

2018 - 6 adult pairs, 6 chicks

2017 - 6 adult pairs, 5 chicks,

2016 - 12 adults, 3 chicks

2015 - 12 adults, 4 chicks

2014 - 12 adults , 4 chicks. 5 nest locations determined

2013 - 12 adults, 5 chicks. 5 nest locations determined

2012 - 12 adults, 5 chicks. 5 nest locations determined

2011 - 12 adults, 2 chicks. 5 nest locations determined

2010 - 12 adults, 4 chicks. 5 nest locations determined

2009 - 12 adults, 4 chicks

2008 - 12 adults, 2 chicks. 5 nest locations determined

2007 - 15 adults, 4 chicks. 3 nesting pairs were determined. Highest number of adults seen was 21.

2006 - 14 adults, 2 chicks. The location of one nest was determined and another nest location is suspected although not verified. The highest number of adults seen was 21.

Cooper

monitored by Russ Link (Camp Olson)

2008 - 2 adults, 0 chicks

2006 - 3 adults, 2 chicks

Loons Pictures - 2015

This picture shows a new loon platform that was installed near the public access on Little Boy Lake. The loons apparently liked it right away and are using it this first year. Many thanks to Al Ritchie for making the platform and to Ron Stokesbary for placing it on top of the ice in January.



(photo by Brent Stokesbary)

This picture shows a platform near Randy Helland and Cindy Gackle's property on Little Boy Lake. This platform (also made by Al RItchie and installed by Al and Randy) has been in the water for a number of years. There is a large eagle nest almost directly overhead which accounts for the lack of success this loon pair has had. You can see the eagles are on the loon platform and the loons are in the water nearby.

(photo by Al Ritchie)