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)
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.
Little Boy Lake - monitored by Ron Stokesbary
2016 - 12 adults, 3 chicks
2015 - 12 adults, 4 chicks
2014 - 12 adults were sighted and 4 chicks. 5 nest locations determined
2013 - 12 adults were sighted and 5 chicks. 5 nest locations determined.
2012 - 12 adults were sighted and 5 chicks. 5 nest locations determined.
2011 - 12 adults were sighted and 2 chicks. 5 nest locations determined.
2010 - 12 adults were sighted and 4 chicks. 5 nest locations determined.
2009 - 12 adults were sighted and 4 chicks.
2008 - 12 adults were sighted and 2 chicks. 5 nest locations determined.
2007 - 15 adults were sighted and 4 chicks. 3 nesting pairs were determined. Highest number of adults seen was 21.
2006 - 14 adults were sighted and 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 were sighted and no chicks.
2006 - 3 adults and 2 chicks.
Wabedo - monitored by Bruce and Mary Jane Black
2016 - 12 adults, 3 chicks
2014 - 11 adults, 5 pairs, 0 chicks
2013 - 8 adults, 2 nesting pairs and 1 chick were sighted.
2012 - 11 adults, 2 nesting pairs and 2 chicks were sighted.
2011 - 22 adults were sighted and 5 chicks.
2009 - 10 adults were sighted and 4 chicks.
2008 - 13 adults were sighted and 2 chicks.
2007 - 18 adults were sighted and 4 chicks. Ten loons were in a group in the middle basin.
2006 - 13 adults were sighted and 4 chicks.
2005 - 3 adults were sighted and no chicks.
Rice - monitored by Otto/Ann Geisbauer
2009 - 2 adults were sighted and 1 chick.
2008 - 2 adults were sighted and no chicks.
2007 - 2 adults were sighted and 2 chicks.
2006 - 2 adults and no chicks.
2005 - 2 adults (1 pair) and 1 chick were sighted.
FYI - Statewide Information
For 2015, there were 800 Loon Watchers who reported on 307 lakes in 28 counties. in 2011, a total of 1,847 adult loons and 482 chicks were reported. According to the report forms, 235 loon nesting platforms were placed in lakes and 128 (55%) were used by nesting loons.
In 2015, Cass County had 43 loon watchers surveying 34 lakes and they reported 183 adults and 73 chicks.
Minnesota's state bird, the common loon, is more at home in the water than on land. Built like a torpedo, it swims under water in search of prey. Minnesota has more common loons than any other state except Alaska.
Loon migrations will be tracked this year (2010) for around ten loons. It should be interesting to see what happens to loons that migrate to the Gulf of Mexico with the oil spill vs loons that migrate to the Atlantic Coast. You can watch these migrations on the following site: Loon Migrations
On this site you can also select data from the 1998 study which studied the migrations of loons from Minnesota and Wisconsin to the Carolina coast, Florida coast and Gulf of Mexico.
Here is a very interesting article from a Professor Charles Walcott at Cornell. He has studied loons for over 18 years and has some interesting observations. A must-read ! !
Loon Behavior and Calls (will open a new window for an Abobe file)
Loons' lives are filled with fun facts. For example:
- The bones of most birds are hollow and light, but loons have solid bones.
- The extra weight helps them dive as deep as 250 feet to search for food. They can stay underwater for up to five minutes.
- Because their bodies are heavy relative to their wing size, loons need a 100- to 600-foot "runway" in order to take off from a lake.
- Loons can fly more than 75 miles per hour.
- The red in the loon's eye helps it to see under water.
- Scientists think loons can live for 30 years or more.
Did You Know ?
Minnesota has about 12,050 loons.
Loons start to nest from the middle to the end of May. They generally lay 2 eggs which will hatch 27 to 29 days later. Loon eggs are 3 inches long with an olive green shell with dark spots.
Loon parents will leave the nest if watercraft comes within 500 feet of the nest. This leaves the nest without warmth or protection from predators.
Young chicks are not waterproof! They need to be able to climb on their parents’ back to stay warm and dry. Young chicks are also very buoyant and can’t dive very quickly or very deep.
Larger than a mallard but smaller than a goose, this water bird has a thick neck and a long, black bill. Its legs are set far back on its body, so it has an awkward gait on land. The male is slightly larger than the female, but otherwise the two sexes look identical.
Adult loons weigh 8 to 12 pounds.
The common loon has a black bill and a red eye. In summer it is a spotty black and white with a black/iridescent green head. In fall a "winter coat" that's gray above and white below replaces its summer plumage.
The common loon has four calls. The tremolo, which sounds a bit like maniacal laughter, is an aggressive call. The wail is a long, drawn-out sound. The hoot, a shorter call, is used to communicate among parents and young. The yodel is sounded by male loons guarding their territory.
Loons don't begin breeding until they are three or four years old. The male chooses a territory and attracts a mate. Together the male and female build a nest out of reeds and grasses on the edge of the water. They take turns incubating the one to two eggs the female lays. After 28 to 30 days blackish brown chicks emerge from the eggs, soon ready for a swim. One of the ways parents care for their young is to carry them on their backs to keep them safe from fish and turtle predators. Young loons don't fly until they are more than two months old.
Loons like fish - panfish, perch, ciscoes, suckers, trout, bullheads, smelt, and minnows. They also may eat frogs, leeches, crayfish, mollusks, salamanders, amphipods, and insects.
Adult loons rarely are eaten by other animals (except bald eagles), but their young can fall prey to skunks, raccoons, foxes, snapping turtles, northern pike, and muskies.
Habitat and range:
Loons are found on lakes throughout central and northeastern Minnesota. In September, Minnesota's adult loons travel to their winter home along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina south to Florida, or on the Gulf of Mexico. Younger loons follow a month or so later.