It’s been another busy week on the Squam Lakes! I’m delighted to report that we have two new nests on Squam! On a sad note, however, we did lose one nest that was attacked by a mammal. This brings the number of active nests to one nest on Little Squam and 5 nests on Squam Lake! There are several other pairs showing interest in nesting, so hopefully they will settle down soon!
It’s hard to believe but the first nest is due to hatch next week already! As we head into chick season, please remind your neighbors and other lake users to give the loon families (and, of course, the nests!) plenty of space. We ask people to stay at least 150′ away from loons and loon families so the loons can focus on the hard work of raising loon chicks without being stressed or disturbed. Also, please remind people to boat slowly and carefully in coves or areas of the lake marked with LPC’s orange “Caution: Loon Chick” signs and to keep an eye out for chicks. The chicks are small, dark, and can be hard to see on the water; and, sadly, boat/jetski collisions are the second-leading known cause of death for loon chicks. Please remind everyone to be careful so that doesn’t happen!
Loon Preservation Committee is once again partnering with the Squam Lakes Association for Loon Chick Watch this year! Loon Chick Watch is a wonderful way to volunteer and help protect Squam’s loons! For more information, please visit https://www.squamlakes.org/loon-chick-watcher-volunteer-sign.
In this week’s edition of “Meet the Loon of Squam,” I’ll introduce you to a new mystery loon on the lake–please see the P.S. below to learn more! As always, please do contact me with any reports, questions, or concerns, and please call the Loon Preservation Committee to report a sick, injured, or dead loon (603-476-5666).
Thank you for your interest in Squam’s loons! Tiffany
P.S. “Meet the Loons of Squam”–Kimball Island:
Kimball Island’s have been a something of a mystery for many years, but the mystery only deepened this year. There has not been a banded loon in that territory since 2009. The banded female, who was on territory in Kimball in 2009, decided to take over Sturtevant Cove in early spring 2010; since then, Kimball has been occupied by unbanded loons, so we really don’t know the history of these loons. The Kimball loons have had several nesting attempts over the intervening years (in 2010, 2013, and 2015); but none of these nesting attempts were successful, so we were unable to band them and begin to learn about these loons.
But the mystery surrounding Kimball has just gotten that much deeper! Much to my surprise, the female in Kimball this year is banded–but it is only a single silver band, so I have no idea who she is! The silver bands (well, actually aluminum, but it’s easier to call them silver!) are the official bands issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Every banded loon gets one of these, and they have a number on it that is the official identifier of each loon. Of course, unless you have the loon in the hand, there is not a good way to read these numbers. This is why we put the unique color combination of lightweight plastic bands on the loons, so we can easily recognize them while looking through binoculars and keeping a safe and respectful distance. Given that this female only has a silver band, we will have no idea who she is or where she came from until we can capture her! You might be wondering why she only has a silver band. There are several possibilites–sometimes the plastic bands become loose and fall off. Also, if a loon has been with a wildlife rehabilitator, they are sometimes only given a silver band. Or she may have only been given a silver band originally, for whatever the reason.
You may recall from our “Meet the Loons of Squam” last year that there is a male in Rattlesnake Cove in the same situation. Here’s hoping that both of these loons will nest successfully and have chicks–most importantly, so that there will be more loon chicks contributed to the population. But also so we can capture these adults and begin to solve the mystery of these loons!