New Hampshire’s loons seem to be doing pretty well this year

  • An adult loon with its loonlet on Lake Winnisquam on Monday evening, July 11, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • An adult loon with its loonlet on Lake Winnisquam on Monday evening, July 11, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER / Concord Monitor staff

  • An adult loon with its loonlet on Lake Winnisquam on July 11. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Concord Monitor
Published: 7/29/2022 11:07:05 AM
Modified: 7/29/2022 11:04:02 AM

When it comes to the weather, loons like things to be dull.

“We had a really lousy year last year with a hot June, rainy July. We’re doing better this year; we’re seeing more of the nests that have hatched, and successful nests are hatching two chicks more often than average,” said John Cooley, senior biologist for the Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonboro. “The most obvious reason for that would be the weather was stable. June didn’t have big storms nor heat waves, and overall, things were holding steady. … That’s what they like, that’s what they need.”

Although the group is still in the process of tallying and loons are still hatching out, it appears that the state’s population of the iconic waterbird will be similar to last year when 326 pairs of breeding loons were recorded in New Hampshire. There were fewer than 100 nesting pairs in 1974, when the Loon Preservation Committee was established.

Cooley noted that loons are very long-lived – “we’re seeing loons banded in the mid-1990s that are still breeding on our lakes.”

“They’re in it for the long haul and every so often they need a great year. This might be one,” he said.

Cooley pointed to successful efforts, including seeing successful nests on a number of rafts that were put out on lakes all over the state this year to provide floating, protected areas for loons.

Another piece of good news, he said, is that they have seen five loons breeding who were among 10 rescued after being trapped by ice on Lake Winnipesaukee in January.

The big risks to loons remains development of shorelines that removes the areas favored by loons for nesting because they can’t walk well on land, and getting poisoned after swallowing lead fishing gear. There have been two lead-poisoned loons found this year.

It is illegal in New Hampshire to use lead fishing gear less than 1 ounce in weight in fresh water, and nine stores are participating in a buyback program for lead sinkers and jigs of that size.

Details of the buyback can be found at www.loonsafe.org.


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