Where do loons go in the winter, and when can we expect them back?

Winter seems to finally be losing its grip on New Hampshire. With temperatures exceeding 50 degrees F predicted every day for the next few weeks, spring has finally arrived. With it comes the return of loons- we already have one confirmed report of a loon returning to its breeding lake! The others will soon follow, and before we know it, the nesting season will be upon us.

Where have these loons been since we last saw them in the fall? Loons from New Hampshire spend their winters off the Atlantic Coast, though exactly where remains somewhat mysterious! Although we have banded hundreds of loons in New Hampshire since the 1990s, fewer than 40 of these loons have been identified on the ocean. That’s because it can be very difficult to see bands in the rough ocean waters. Thanks to some talented photographers and some dedicated biologists and citizen scientists, however, we have been able to resight some of our loons over the years! These band resights suggest that New Hampshire loons spent their winters all along the Atlantic coast, from as far north as Jericho Bay in Maine to as far south as Cape May in New Jersey!

Here at LPC, we’ve been eagerly preparing for the start of our live looncam.  Over the winter, LPC biologists and our wonderful looncam operator have worked hard to ensure that the viewing experience is even better this year. Viewers can expect a smoother video stream, as we’ve been able to increase the frame rate at which we broadcast. We also have been experimenting with improving the sound-hopefully we will not have any microphone hum this year!

Our first looncam will be installed on the same lake as usual, so you will be able to watch the loon pair that you’ve come to know over the past several years. If all goes according to plan, we should have the looncam up and running at the nesting area by May 3rd. The loons likely will not begin nesting for a few weeks after that, but viewers will be able to watch as the loons select their nest site and begin to build their nest. The pre-nesting period is fascinating, and we’re excited to be able to share the pre-nesting behaviors of these loons with loon enthusiasts around the world!

We will continue to check in over the next few weeks with more updates! Happy spring!