Squam Lake Loon Report: More chicks! But also…

What a week it has been on the Squam Lakes, full of highs and lows—all I can say, the Squam loon rollercoaster is going full force. First the(very!) good news: we have 3 new chicks on the Squam Lakes!! Two chicks hatched on Little Squam and we also have a new chick on Squam Lake! The nest that hatched on Squam Lake was 3 days beyond the expected hatch date, so I was starting to be afraid the egg wouldn’t hatch—but it did, and I could not be happier about it! The totals on the Lakes right now are 2 chicks on Little Squam and 4 chicks between 3 families on Squam Lake. In addition, there are still 2 active nests on Squam Lake, so hopefully there will be more chicks to come!

Now for the bad news: a dead loon was collected last Sunday. The loon was unbanded; but we were able to determine, both through circumstances and through the necropsy, that it was the incubating female at a nest near where the loon was collected. Needless to say, the nest failed as well–sadly, the nest had been due to hatch this past week. This was a devastating series of events. We are still awaiting the results of further tests associated with the necropsy to determine the cause of death of this loon, but I will let you know when we have more information. Many thanks to the people who reported and collected this loon—it is so important for us to get these mortalities and understand the causes of death for these loons.

With more loon chicks out on the lake, please remind your lake friends and neighbors and other lake users how important it is to look out for these chicks and give them plenty of space (at least 150’–no wake distance—or more if loons show signs of stress). This distance applies to both motorboats and kayaks/canoes/paddleboards—many people think they can get closer if they are in a “quiet boat,” but please remind them that the close approach of a kayak is just as stressful and potentially harmful to loons and chicks as that of a motorboat. It is also important to ask them not to boat between the shoreline and the loons if the loons are in towards the shore and that this also applies to both motorboats and kayaks/canoes/paddleboards. Going between the loons and shore can push the loons away from shore and into more open water that is less protected for the chicks from wind and wave action and where there is greater risk of collision from motorboats or water skiers/inner tubes/jetskis. Instead, please ask them to go around the loons at a safe distance. Also, please ask them to boat slowly and carefully in areas marked with Loon Preservation Committee’s orange “Caution: Loon Chicks” signs. Please remind them that the loons may be anywhere in a cove or bay marked with these signs and to look carefully because loon chicks are small, dark, hard to see on the water, and may be alone on the surface if both parents are diving for food. Thank you very much for helping to spread the word about safe boating practices around loon families and helping to keep the loons safe! Also, please consider signing up for Loon Chick Watch, a partnership between Loon Preservation Committee and Squam Lakes Association. For more information, please visit https://www.squamlakes.org/loon-chick-watcher-program or email Melissa Leszek at melissaleszek@squamlakes.org.

Last week we wrapped up our “Meet the Loons of Squam” series, which will return next summer as we revisit Squam’s territorial pairs and catch up with them. We will be starting a new series for the remainder of this summer; but, this week, the P.S. feature will take a hiatus as I work on the Squam Lake Loon Initiative annual Progress Report, which you will receive with the next e-newsletter. As always, please contact me with any questions, reports, or concerns, and please report any sick, injured, or dead loons to Loon Preservation Committee at (603) 476-5666.