FALMOUTH — Do you know that loon chicks can swim instantly however want parental care for his or her first three months? That the form of a loon’s brow or size of its neck can change to point stress? And that Maine is lucky to be house to the most important Frequent Loon inhabitants within the Northeast?
For almost 4 a long time, Maine Audubon has been finding out loon habits and interesting volunteers throughout Maine in conservation efforts to bolster the loon inhabitants. Certainly one of our strongest and well-liked instruments is the annual Loon Depend, scheduled this yr for Saturday, July 16 from 7-7:30 a.m.
This occasion has engaged greater than a thousand volunteers since 1983. On the third Saturday of July, contributors head out in skiffs, kayaks, and pontoon boats to tally the Frequent Loons they see. Final yr, volunteers of all ages counted loons on 328 lakes.
Maine Audubon makes use of the statewide snapshot to estimate the annual inhabitants and observe inhabitants tendencies throughout the a long time. The data helps biologists, state officers, and Maine lake customers perceive extra in regards to the loons’ standing and the well being of Maine’s lakes. “The depend offers us a window into the standing and adjustments in Maine’s Frequent Loon inhabitants over time,” says Tracy Hart, Maine Audubon wildlife ecologist.
For the reason that loon depend’s inception in 1983, the variety of grownup loons within the southern half of the state has primarily doubled, from an preliminary estimate of fewer than 1,500 to almost 3,000 in 2020. That is thanks partially to conservation efforts just like the Maine lead sort out ban and the Fish Lead Free Initiative (fishleadfree.org/me) which have helped scale back the variety of grownup loons that die from swallowing lead sort out.
There’s nonetheless far more to find out about Maine’s loon inhabitants. That’s why Hart is especially excited in regards to the enlargement of loon conservation and outreach packages, due to new funding sources. Final yr, Maine Audubon obtained a five-year grant to considerably develop the Maine Loon Venture, and to accomplice with Maine Lakes, Lakes Environmental Affiliation, and the Penobscot Indian Nation to work to enhance loon productiveness and scale back mortality within the state. The brand new partnership, the Loon Restoration Venture, is an thrilling alternative to work with native volunteers to begin documenting loon nesting successes and failures in additional depth. Key parts embody inserting synthetic nesting rafts the place applicable and creating a sturdy volunteer loon monitoring program.
Extra data, together with Maine Audubon’s “Residing in Loon Territory” brochure, is offered at maineaudubon.org/loons.