Why is the common loon important?


Why are there no Loons in the Great Lakes?

Mercury from the burning of coal can build up in lakes through rainfall, and this has led to poor reproductive success for Common Loons in Canada, New England, and Wisconsin. Common Loons are often caught inadvertently by commercial fishing nets, both on the Great Lakes and in the ocean.

Are loon populations increasing or decreasing?

North American Common Loon populations are stable and healthy overall, and between 1966 and 2015 populations remained stable, and slightly increased in the U.S., according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The species rates an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and is not on the 2016 State of North America’s Birds’ Watch List.

How do Loons find fish to eat?

Common Loons spend a lot of their time working shallow waters for fish: swimming slowly and sticking their heads into the water to look for fish, then diving suddenly after their quarry with a quick plip! that hardly leaves a ripple on the water’s surface. Loons do all their feeding during the day, when they can best see their prey.

Why are there no Loons in my lake?

Large fluctuations caused by human activities, especially during the nesting season (May to July) can make a lake unsuitable for nesting loons. Loons build their nests at the water’s edge because they have difficulty walking on land. Loons prefer to nest on islands and in backwaters protected from wave action.

What’s happening to the Great Lakes’Loons?

One not-so-subtle effect hits loons that nest around the Great Lakes. Joe Kaplan, a former BRI scientist who now directs Common Coast, a research and conservation organization in northern Michigan, currently studies the spread of botulism among loon populations along Lake Michigan.

Why are Canada’s Loons disappearing?

A recent 32-year study of loons conducted by Bird Studies Canada found a strong connection between acid rain, mercury levels, and depressed loon reproduction in lakes across eastern Canada. Acid rain, caused by industrial emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, gradually lowers the pH level of lake water.

Why is the Great Lakes important to the loon population?

The Great Lakes and large inland lakes and reservoirs throughout the eastern US and Canada play an important role in maintaining the loon population. Without quality stopover sites, loons may have a difficult time traveling between their breeding grounds and their wintering sites on the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

How long do Loon birds live?

Loons begin breeding at about six years old and are thought to be long-lived birds, living up to 30 years. North American common loon populations are stable overall. They depend on clean water in lakes and other bodies of water, and are sensitive to the effects of pollution and human disturbances.

Is the Canadian lakes Loon population declining?

According to the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey, a project of Bird Studies Canada, the number of young loons has been decreasing.

How do Loons find their prey?

Loons find their prey by sight. They eat mainly fish, supplemented with amphibians, crustaceans and similar mid-sized aquatic fauna. Specifically, they have been noted to feed on crayfish, frogs, snails, salamanders and leeches. They prefer clear lakes because they can more easily see their prey through the water.

Why do loons eat pebbles?

They prefer clear lakes because they can more easily see their prey through the water. The loon uses its pointy bill to stab or grasp prey. They eat vertebrate prey headfirst to facilitate swallowing, and swallow all their prey whole. To help digestion, loons swallow small pebbles from the bottoms of lakes.

Why do common loons vocalize?

These vocalizations are used in courtship and territorial disputes, communication between pairs and offspring, and among flock members, and to signal alarm, according to the ADW. Common loons are carnivores, which means they eat meat. Typically, common loons will make meals of fish and crayfish, shrimp and leeches they find around their home.

Where do loons go in the winter?

The birds migrate across Lake Ontario, cross from north to south, then turn south. However, some remain at the lake throughout the winter. It is believed that loons return to their exact birthplace often, often returning to their very own lake.

Are loons really Ducks?

“Because they live in the water, have webbed feet and act like a diving duck, many people incorrectly assume that loons are ducks,” says Jones, who is the Ontario programs volunteer coordinator for Bird Studies Canada’s Canadian Lakes Loon Survey.

What do Loons tell us about the health of our lakes?

“Loons are a great indicator of our lake and environmental health,” says Jones. “If they have a healthy population and successfully produce young then our lake environments are healthy. If reproduction declines it may represent issues with our lake and environmental health.”

Do loons nest on the lake?

At our cabin in northern Minnesota, we normally have only one pair of loons that nest on the lake. However, one summer we began noticing eight to 10 loons gathering together on the lake for an hour or so, diving and swimming. We call it “The Loon Breakfast Club.” After the morning breakfast stop, they fly off.

When are the best times to see Loons?

In the Great Lakes region, the peak of loon migration and congregation is in early May. During migration, Common Loons can be seen on rivers and lakes, sometimes in large groups. It often seems like they give the best views when one has forgotten one’s camera! Common Loons usually return to their breeding lake right after ice out.

Where do loons migrate to?

Loons in western Canada and Alaska migrate to the Pacific Coast, from Alaska’s Aleutian Islands down past Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Loons from the Great Lakes region migrate to the Gulf of Mexico or Florida coasts. Loons from eastern Canada migrate to the Atlantic Coast.

Why do loons nest on acidic lakes?

Loons exhibit a strong tendency to settle as breeders on a lake that resembles their natal one, a phenomenon termed natal habitat imprinting. This preference is based on two lake attributes: size and pH. The behaviour is puzzling, because it is as strong in loons hatched on small, acidic lakes as those from large lakes of neutral pH.

Where do Loon birds live?

On breeding lakes, the courtship and vocalizing of the loon are spectacular (Corel Professional Photos). Loon (family Gaviidae) is a common name for a distinctive group of 5 large, swimming birds, all confined to the Northern Hemisphere and all occurring in North America. Loons nest on inland lakes and rivers, migrating to the sea for winter.

What does it mean to be Canadian with a common loon?

That common thread is the Common Loon, now widely considered an iconic indicator of the health of aquatic ecosystems. From my perspective, there is no better bird to represent what it means to be Canadian. Did you know that 95 per cent of the world’s Common Loons breed in Canada? The Common Loon occurs regularly in every province and territory.

How many species of loons are there in Ontario?

There are five species of loons, including the yellow-billed loon, the Pacific loon, the red-throated loon, the common loon and the Arctic loon. The common loon is the official bird of Ontario.