Leg Bands

You may notice, especially when they are turning the eggs or switching nest duties, that these loons have colored bands on their legs. LPC has been banding loons for the past 25 years. Every banded loon has a unique color combination, usually consisting of two bands on each leg. Here, the female has orange and blue on the left leg, blue and silver on the right leg; the male has red with white stripe and green on the left leg, white and silver on the right leg. The male was banded on this pond in 2014. The female was banded on this pond in 1998. Read more about the pair here.
Every loon gets a “silver” band, which is actually aluminum with a unique identifying number stamped into it. These bands are supplied by US Fish and Wildlife Service. But trying to read a nine digit number that is less than 1/4” high is impossible unless you recapture the loon. Hence, the distinctive colored bands. Generally speaking, loons first captured as adults get the silver band on the right leg. Juvenile and immature loons get the silver band on the left leg.
Being able to monitor many individual loons over a long time period is critical to understanding the life history of loons. With this information, LPC has been able to construct a population model that is used to inform management strategies and methods.