But I notice that they aren’t returning to the second egg. Native Americans made a totem of the bird; to be called “loon-hearted” honored that person’s courage and wisdom. More information here. Squam Lakes Natural Science Center: Take the summer loon cruise! Loons fight for the chance to be parents. In time, mining decades of data, loon biologists developed a single number for indexing population stability: the ratio of surviving chicks to territorial pairs. Wood sent a worker to help build log rafts, four feet on a side. In Europe, the common loon goes by the name “great northern diver.” Some call it a “submarine with wings.” If it could nest in the water, it would. For that moment, he said, he could “still hear the loons.”. They stay together for the children. How significant were the lab results, given all the factors that historically affect loon nesting? Wood marshaled longtime summer residents around the lake to adopt loons in particular coves or bays. Field biologists funded out of Wood’s deep khaki pockets determined that raccoons, drawn by garbage bins and roadside trash, were robbing eggs from shoreline nests. That night, more wails and yodels jolt me out of bed. He told her that it had brought back so many memories. It must be hard to develop the strength–and possibly the nerve, too–that will lift you away from all you’ve ever known. I want to see another nest built off the point next June. Lab results on Squam eggs from the worst years of the decline, 2005 through 2007, showed surprising spikes in several toxic chemicals, including high levels of two “legacy contaminants”: PCBs, which had been banned from manufacturing in 1979, and chlordane, a pesticide banned in 1988. In 1987, Wood and his biologists began working with a young veterinarian at Tufts, Mark Pokras. With the help of people like Rawson Wood, it appeared to be on the way to recovery. A few hours later, Vogel and his senior biologist examine and weigh the young bird at LPC’s Loon Center on Lake Winnipesaukee. This combination of broad-based science and intensive on-the-ground management was refined on Squam. I’ve been keeping anxious watch, checking on the nest each morning and throughout the day. My first experience hearing loons was a very breathtaking one (In 2005). A lone bullfrog booms, then a whole chorus. We look through the curling fog in silence. Breaking thin ice ahead of us with our paddles, we lever and pole and slowly slide through the water. Whether we hear it much longer depends on us. They’re welcoming us back.” In the movie, loons serve as metaphors for home and family, what we hold onto, what slips away. Something catches my eye, and I raise the glasses just in time to see a fuzzy black chick the size and shape of a Ping-Pong ball tumble from the nest into the water. The constancy of the sitting–in rain, in wind, in heat–strikes me as real work. Like loons throughout New Hampshire, Squam Lake’s loons face multiple stressors; however, unhatched loon eggs collected by LPC (under state and federal permits) from Squam between 2005 and 2007 revealed high levels of a number of contaminants, … Let nature take its course, a neighbor had told me, as I watched the ice come in. The study quantified Wood’s fears: Loons on Squam successfully fledged just three chicks; on Winnipesaukee, only one chick survived the summer. Status of Common Loons on Squam Lake in 1999 Amy Wright and Kate Taylor Introduction By 1975 the Common Loon (Gavia immer) population in the state of New Hampshire was in notable decline. Just a few miles from where he took the call, sandy beaches led down to the Gulf of Mexico. The days grow shorter and colder. The committee would be self-funded, and he would chair it. Then during the spring and into the summer of 2010, crude oil poured from the destroyed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana. It appeared at first to be a graceful pas de deux, but the movements were no dance. Like loons throughout New Hampshire, Squam Lake’s loons face multiple stressors; however, unhatched loon eggs collected by LPC (under state and federal permits) from Squam between 2005 and 2007 revealed high levels of a number of contaminants, including PBDE (flame retardants), PFOS (stain guards), PCB (industrial insulating/cooling agents), and chlordane (a pesticide). I’m floating, along with the new parents. Their investigation was a follow up to the research of the Loon Preservation Committee documenting elevated levels of contaminants (including PCBs) in unhatched loon eggs from failed nests on Squam Lake and our subsequent identification of areas with contaminated sediments in the watershed, including a site with elevated levels of PCBs. A short time later, I look out from our bedroom window and no longer see him there. In 2003, 15 chicks had survived on Squam to the end of the summer. “Loons are still in the queue,” says Vogel. From Route 109: If loons are to survive the territorial battle taking place right now at the southern edge of their range, it will be human beings who must adapt. This setting should only be used on your home or work computer. They wing-rowed back and forth in a high-speed chase across and around the pond, wheeling and churning over the surface. She says our pond–30 acres at best–may be the smallest in the state hosting a nesting pair. Our knowledge of the effects of these contaminants, especially combinations of contaminants, on loons is limited. A territorial battle ended with the weakened male beached on shore, and its chick, hatched the day before ours, killed by the attacking loon. He called their wails “perhaps the wildest sound that is ever heard here.” But fishermen didn’t see a mystical symbol when they saw loons–they saw competition. In the end, only two chicks survived to fledge on the big lake. In the dozen years we’ve lived by this pond in the southern foothills of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, we’ve had loons only as visitors. Over the next several years the LPC was able to document a decrease in the … “Far North” once extended farther south into the United States. As we approach, the loon rallies briefly, then lies down, curling away from the wind. (That piercing yodel, plus his greater size, distinguishes the male from the female.) Sir: I read the very interesting article about loons. There it is, on the nest, post-downpour, safe. His task now is to make the transition from water to air and to find his way to the coast. Until now, none have stayed. Loons’ legs, set far back on their bodies, don’t support them on land. The male seems to think so, too, because he occasionally yodels with no predator in sight, no eagle or small airplane passing overhead. After each loon census now, Grade would call Rawson Wood at his home in Sanibel, Florida, to give him the numbers. From 2001-2012, Squam lost on average 1.9% of its adult loon population annually due to lead fishing tackle. His summer place was located near the spot where film crews shot On Golden Pond, which opens with Katharine Hepburn’s quavering call to Henry Fonda, playing her irascible husband: “Norman … the loons! I see nothing at first, then–stark, silhouetted against the mist–a long, tapered bill. More recently, geologically speaking–several million years ago–retreating glaciers filled freshwater lakes across northern North America. Families returned to the lake year after year, over generations, fiercely protecting their territory. I yell up to the house and Jim comes running down. Yet the “Feather Wars” persisted: Hunters illegally slaughtered hundreds of thousands of birds each year, along with the stray ranger or conservationist who got in their way. 2017 Full Year! I’d watched these loons labor to move even a few inches on shore, scooting on their chests, clumsily propelled by their feet. Pokras sliced open the stomach of the first dead loon LPC sent him and found fishing tackle lodged there. He speculated that osprey and loons, both fish-eating birds, might be reacting to the collapse in the population of menhaden, a once-prolific, small, silvery fish related to herrings and alewives, and an important part of the birds’ winter diet. Of the adults that came to him off the summer breeding grounds, lead had killed half. View Judy Lombardi’s slide show of stunning loon photos. A few minutes later, the big male and the female were swimming placidly side by side, looking for all the world like a couple. We rented from the Squam Lakes Association for a affordable hourly price. We see very few and hear even less! At a loon store in New Hampshire (near Squam Lake) I purchased a teaching CD on loons. It would count every adult, every nest, and every chick on Squam and on every other lake in New Hampshire. I suddenly, viscerally, feel all the dangers ahead, the snapping turtles, bald eagles, lead fishing tackle. Most of them–roughly 70 percent of the world’s common loons–were headed to the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. In time, Wood started bringing his own five children to Squam and noticed fewer loons on the lake. The Loon Center and Wildlife Sanctuary are on the left, at 183 Lee’s Mill Road. And it would use those data to learn how to protect them. In the loon hierarchy, territory comes before mate. Rawson Wood, in his 90s emeritus director of LPC, was still working. “I pity the fish,” says evolutionary biologist James Paruk, “that first met a diving bird.”. Real in fishing lines when fishing near loons. Volunteer as a Loon Chick Watcher! Across New Hampshire, the number of nesting loon pairs had tripled. At Tufts, Mark Pokras performed a necropsy on the dead adult and found a fishing jig, made of lead, legal size. The SEPF makes grants to promote the natural beauty and ecological health of the Squam Lakes watershed. This ancient species that has adapted so long and so well is vulnerable to a single large-scale event–and even to incremental changes in its environment. Inl976 the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) was created to address concerns about the impact of human activities on loons. The research expanded beyond Squam and beyond New Hampshire. Squam’s loon population has also experienced extremely high levels of mortality from lead fishing tackle. When humans appeared on the North American continent, loons were there. The steel hook could have disintegrated over time, but the sinker, made of soft lead, had poisoned the bird. Then the larger male intruded on their idyll. A higher number signaled an expanding population; a lower number warned of a population in decline. In the 1960s he tried to do something about it; he wrote to state officials, headed up the lake association’s conservation committee, became active in the Audubon Society of New Hampshire. Squam Lake, New Hampshire Picture: Loon on Squam Lake - Check out Tripadvisor members' 1,198 candid photos and videos. June 26, 2018 With my daughter Helene & Michael Atkinson on their 25th anniversary! Their survival as a species depends on a web of healthy infrastructures–and may say something crucial about the health of the planet. I stand at the open window, straining to hear. A century ago, anglers arriving at Northeastern lakes routinely began their fishing trips by shooting every loon in sight. Thoreau tried to determine where the loon would surface after diving into the water. I’ve been on this lumpy bed of reeds for six hours. Newer toxins, such as those found in the stain repellant PFOS and the flame retardant PBDE-99, also appeared well above levels known to affect birds. After the film’s release, a Wall Street Journal reporter noted the growing association of loons with exclusivity and access to unspoiled places like Squam. Throughout the afternoon, each time the smaller bird slowed, the intruder pounced. By the Fourth of July, I’ve been won over by the big male. He had long studied osprey colonies on Long Island Sound and had been stunned by recent precipitous declines in those colonies to levels even below the DDT era. But it wasn’t enough. Following the spill, 400 dead loons were recovered. Pokras began keeping his own records, which would grow to more than 1,500 loon necropsies. Your turn with the eggs! Now I call the female “the flighty young thing.” When the male yodels at her, I swear I see her toss her head and glide away. 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