The Perfect Loon Nest Site

The water level has dropped, the primary nest is exposed and ready, and we should be seeing some serious nesting activity soon. Some viewers have been asking why the loons prefer this particular spot, so this is a good time to discuss loon nest site selection.

Although loons are excellent divers and competent fliers, walking is near impossible for them because their legs are set far to the rear of their bodies. Consequently, they must choose a nest site that is just barely higher than the water level and right on the edge of the water. The number one favorite loon nest site is a small island; the smaller the better. A dense, bushy island is a huge plus. The island makes it more difficult for terrestrial predators to find them and dense foliage serves as cover to make them less conspicuous and also thwart attacks from aerial predators.

This particular pond doesn’t have any islands, so the loons have chosen the second most common nest site, a hummock in a shallow area with emergent vegetation. This kind of site still offers some protection from raccoons and other terrestrial predators. The emergent vegetation can provide some cover, although in this case, the cover is minimal. But it is the best the loons can do on this pond.

Although this loon pair is working at a disadvantage, they are up to the challenge. They are experienced, productive nesters. And their disadvantage (and reliability) is why we chose this site for our nest cam. It provides an excellent view of the daily nesting activities.