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An Introduction to the Loons of Loon Cam 1

Loon Cam season is rapidly approaching—if all goes according to schedule,  Loon Cam 1 will be live by mid-May. This year, Loon Cam 1 will be streamed from a different lake than usual. We know that many will miss the pair from our previous Loon Cam 1 site, but rest assured that the pair on the new lake is made up of two wonderful loons! To help you become acquainted with them, we’ve compiled some information on their history. Please note that LPC biologists are not out surveying yet for the year, and as such, we can’t be 100% sure that the same banded loons are back on the lake this season; however, given that loons have high rates of territory fidelity and that they are a long-lived species, it is very likely that the pair we watch on Loon Cam 1 will be made up of the two loons described below. We hope that you fall in love with them, as the people who live on their lake have!

The members of the regular pair on this lake were both originally banded in 2013. Because they were banded as adults and loons do not reach adulthood until age three, we know that they are, at minimum, 11 years old; however, because they were banded after hatching chicks and the average loon does not hatch a chick until ~6 years of age, it is likely that these loons are 14 years old or older.

The male loon’s left leg band combination is white stripe (white background with a horizontal black stripe through the middle) over orange. His right leg band combination is silver over blue stripe (blue with a horizontal white stripe through the middle). This past winter, this male loon was photographed on the ocean, so we know that he spends his winters off the Connecticut coast.

The female loon is only banded on her right leg, which has an orange band over a silver band. The reason that she is not banded on her left leg is because she is tiny! When our banding crew caught her in 2013, they did not have small enough bands on hand to fit her left leg. Generally, the legs of the loons we band here in New Hampshire range from 24–27 millimeters wide along the flat edge. This female’s legs were just 21.4 millimeters—quite small for a New Hampshire loon! While we were able to trim down her aluminum US Fish and Wildlife service ID band to fit her leg, we only had a single plastic band with us that was small enough for her. As such, her left leg had to remain bare.

This loon pair has been together every year since they were originally banded in 2013. In that time, they have hatched 8 chicks, 6 of which have survived to the end of the summer. We hope that they will add to that number this year, and we’re excited to watch along with you as they nest!

It was a tough decision to change the Loon Cam location, and one that was made after careful consideration. We know that viewers have become attached to the pair that we’ve been livestreaming since 2014; however, a few different factors played into our decision to feature a new loon pair and location this year:

  • The Loon Cam 1 nest site was quite far from the Loon Center. As our workload has increased over the years (a good thing, as the increased workload has been in response to an increase in New Hampshire’s loon population!), it’s become increasingly difficult for our staff to find the time to get out to the site to install the Loon Cam in the spring, check on it as problems arise throughout the nesting season, and break down the setup later in the summer. The new site is closer to LPC, and as such, it will be much easier for us maintain.
  • The male loon from the old site had to be rescued last year after getting injured in a territorial fight on a nearby lake. He was examined, rehabilitated briefly, and released directly onto the ocean once given a clean bill of health. While it’s likely that he will return to his lake this year, we can’t be 100% sure. Given that male loons have been found to play a larger role in choosing the nest site (for more information, click here), it’s possible that if a new loon takes his place this year, the pair may not nest where we expect them to. It’s also possible that they may not nest at all, as is sometimes seen in pairs in which one member is new. We want to make sure that we give you a view of nesting loons, and as such, we think it makes more sense to broadcast from a lake where we’re more certain that nesting will occur this year.

We hope that you enjoy the new location and getting to know the new nesting pair, and we look forward to the Loon Cam going live in just a few short weeks!