Anxious Loons and Water Level Fluctuation

The loons are anxious to get started. By May 2nd the water level had dropped enough to expose the nest and the next day the loons were recorded copulating on the nest. It only takes two or three days after successful copulation before eggs are laid but it usually requires numerous tries, up to a week or so, before fertilization occurs. Meanwhile, the rainy weather has raised the water level and the nest is once again under water. The dam operators are removing a board today and we hope to have the nest re-exposed in a day or two.

Water level fluctuation is a serious problem for nesting loons. In this case, it might just delay nesting. But after nesting is initiated, water level fluctuation is a significant cause of nest failure, second only to egg predation. If the water level rises, the nest is flooded and incubation is prevented; if the water level drops, the nest can be stranded too far from the water and the loons will abandon it. LPC works with dam operators all over the state of New Hampshire to maintain steady water levels during the nesting season.

To make matters more complicated, this loon pair has an alternative nest site, a little higher in elevation, just a few feet away. If the female decides that waiting is not an option, we might find the loons hastily preparing the alternative nest for the imminent arrival of the eggs. Meanwhile, we have been scrambling to make improvements to the nest cam, including focusing in closer to the primary nest location, to improve both the video and audio quality. If the loons choose to move, we’ll have to move. If the water level drops quickly and the loons choose to stay put, we could be live streaming by the end of the week. Otherwise, we’ve got some serious adaptations to make. Stay tuned.