On Choosing a Nest Site

Those of you who have been watching the early morning behavior of the loon pair (see this clip for an example) may be wondering what’s going on with all the activity in the bushy clump to the right of last year’s nest. Are the loons building a nest in there? The only answer we can give you now is let’s hope not! The vegetation severely obscures visibility from the camera.
What we can tell you is that, on this particular lake, there are no islands and no other protected areas with bushy hummocks, so good nest sites are limited to what is within range of the camera. We can also say with statistical certainty that, after a successful hatch loons have a high likelihood of reusing that nest. After a nest failure, the chances of the loons moving the nest are a little over 60%.
Walter Piper, our colleague and good friend, has shown that the one exception to the above rule is when there is a new male on territory. Then the likelihood of moving the nest site goes up to about 80%. We are glad to report that both of last year’s loons are back. You can read more about nest site selection on Walter’s blog.