Give loons some space

Submitted by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail

Waitsfield ­— The Common Loon (Gavia immer), the bird whose image and melancholy tremolo evokes so much about the North Country, has returned to area lakes and ponds for the summer season and requires a respectful amount of space from onlookers. The non-profit Northern Forest Canoe Trail reminds canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard users that loons should be viewed from “a respectful distance and nesting areas should be avoided.”

Common Loons can be found breeding on lakes and ponds along the entire 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Upon returning to their nesting grounds, paired birds will attempt to raise one or two chicks to adulthood. May through August is a critical time for the next generation of birds. Avoid getting within 300 feet of loon nesting areas. Paddling too close to a nursery can cause parents to abandon a nest.

Loons nest very close to shore, on islands, in marshy areas and, in some locations, floating nest platforms that have been placed by state conservation agencies and volunteers. Paddlers should avoid pursuing loons. If a bird is disturbed off its nest, depart immediately and refrain from getting closer to the suspected nest site.

Loons are monogamous and pairs may stay together for five years. Loons spend the winter months in coastal waters as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.

To learn more about loons and protection efforts along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, visit the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, the Vermont Loon Recovery Project, the Loon Preservation Committee and the Maine Audubon Loon Project.