Loons

National Audubon Society

The iconic call of the loon is one you’ll hear on ponds and lakes throughout the state. We’re checked in with John Cooley, Senior Biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee to learn a bit about the bird and the state of its welfare.

The iconic call of the loon is one you’ll hear on ponds and lakes throughout the state. We’re checked in with John Cooley, Senior Biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee to learn a bit about the bird and the state of its welfare.

N.H. Summer on the Wing: Loons and Bats

Aug 12, 2016
John Rockwood

Warm evenings on the lakes of New Hampshire might mean the call of a loon and, perhaps, bats swooping overhead. While loon populations are on the increase, they still face rising threats in the region, while bats have been decimated by a debilitating disease. We find out what's being done to maintain the local populations as we celebrate summer in New Hampshire.

  This program was originally broadcast on 7/14/2016.

Momma of 3 Beauties / Morguefile

Two loons have died in New Hampshire this summer from ingesting lead fishing tackle. This comes after the state strengthened a law earlier in the season to restrict lead fishing gear.

New Hampshire Fish and Game reports that the two birds died in lakes near Lempster and Stoddard. Metal jigs and fishing line were found inside the loons' gizzards, and lab tests showed fatal amounts of lead in their blood.

National Audubon Society

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire think blue-green algae blooms may be contributing to the declining population of loons in certain New Hampshire lakes.

While scientists have long warned humans to stay clear of algae or cyanobacteria blooms, researchers at UNH now suspect they may be harming New Hampshire’s loon population. While the state’s overall loon population has been steadily rebounding each year, some lakes are still seeing losses.

Loon Biologist Praises New Lead Sinker Ban

Jun 3, 2016
AcrylicArtist / Morguefile

A ban on lead tackle in New Hampshire has gone into effect, with the hope that lead tackle will stop killing loons. Lead tackle was the largest cause of loon mortality between 1989 and 2011. Harry Vogel is a senior biologist and executive director at the Loon Preservation Committee. He spoke with NHPR's All Things Considered host Peter Biello. 

How does the loon come into contact with the lead tackle—does it think its food?

aaronHWarren / Flickr Creative Commons

A ban on lead tackle in New Hampshire goes into effect Wednesday to help protect loons and other bird species in the Granite state.

Harry Vogel is a senior biologist and executive director at the Loon Preservation Committee. He calls the law one of the toughest of its kind in the nation. The law goes beyond use to include sales and also covers sinkers up to an ounce — more far reaching than most other states. Vogel says lead tackle was the largest cause of loon mortality in New Hampshire, with the state losing 124 loons from 1989 to 2011 due to lead sinkers.

Courtesy: New Hampshire Fish and Game

  A loon has been found dead in Alton Bay with a piece of lead fishing tackle in its gizzard.

According to the Loon Preservation Committee, every year between seven and eleven loons are killed by lead fishing tackle. The one found in Alton Bay is this year’s first.

“The majority of the lead deaths we get are in July and August, and that corresponds exactly with peak lake use and peak fishing,” says Harry Vogel, Senior Biologist with the Committee.

Common Loon
Matthew / Flickr Creative Commons

 

It's nesting season for loons, and the Loon Preservation Committee in New Hampshire is asking people to give them some space.

Members recorded the first pair of nesting loons this year on Bolster Pond in Sullivan on May 13. Since then, more than 50 loon pairs have started to incubate eggs, with many more expected to start in the next week or two.

Sean Hurley

Every year the Loon Preservation Committee does a count of NH's loons on Lake Winnipesaukee.  I decided to go out on the lake with them to find out how the loons are doing.

The Director of the Loon Preservation Committee, Harry Vogel, leads me down a forest path toward a boat slip on the northern tip of Lake Winnipesaukee. We'll be touring the lake looking for loons in advance of the population census later in the week. Within moments - maybe it's unavoidable - we're talking about On Golden Pond, which Vogel had just re-watched.

Common Loon
Matthew / Flickr Creative Commons

The annual count of loons on New Hampshire's lakes shows a slight increase over last year, but experts caution the census only provides a glimpse into the true population.   Harry Vogel of the Loon Preservation Committee says 622 observers counted 549 adult loons during a one-hour period on July 19. That's up from the 520 adults observed last year. Vogel notes there were 26 fewer observers last year, so it's too early to say there are more loons.  A more complete picture will emerge in a couple of weeks when full-year monitoring results are released.

Flkr Creative Commons / KeithCarver

Experts estimate there are nearly 300 adult loons living on Vermont's lakes and ponds, up from just a couple dozen 30 years ago.

On Saturday, more than 200 volunteers spread out across Vermont for the annual loon survey.

The results of the survey are trickling in, but Eric Hanson of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the coordinator of the Vermont Loon Conservation Project, says there are many more birds now than just a few years ago.

He says 15 years ago there were around 100 loons and in 1983 biologists counted only 29.

Flkr Creative Commons / KeithCarver

For some Granite Staters the loon represents the state in a very emotional way, and supporters of the bird were out in force on Tuesday, defending a bill that would ban lead fishing gear. The bill was being heard by the House Fish and Game Committee, and attendees over-flowed out the door of a double capacity hearing room. 

Get the Lead Out

Apr 6, 2012
Lead Sinkers
Photo by kurtfaler via Flickr/Creative Commons.

As anglers dust off their tackle boxes, it's a great time to make sure that all the lead is out. Decades of research by the Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonborough has proven the toxicity of lead fishing tackle to wildlife. One lead sinker an ounce or less in weight can kill a loon in a matter of weeks. Loons swallow grit and pebbles that help to grind up food, and sometimes there's a sinker in the gravelly mix. Fishermen lose a lot of sinkers. 

Noisy Water Birds

Feb 9, 2012

Summer visitors to New Hampshire typically are eager to hear the call of a common loon, emblem of the wild and remote north woods.  Popular souvenirs to take home include coffee mugs, sweatshirts and jewelry—all with a loon motif.

In addition to their striking appearance, I suspect the fact that loons chorus at night adds greatly to their mystique.  Loons of winter don't get much attention, but scan coastal waters and chances are good you'll see a loon or two offshore.  New Hampshire's breeding loons don't migrate far.