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  • With their young on their backs, the adult loon can provide better protection from predators both above and beneath the waters surface.

  • The dance of the loon is a sign of extreme agitation. It is generally combined with frantic calls and is one of the last defense actions available to loons. Anyone observing such a response should retreat immediately.

  • Because of their large size and weight, loons require about 1/4 mile of lake surface to become airborne and thus appear to run across the water before taking off.

  • Because of their difficulty moving about the land, loons build their nests within a few inches of water. When a nesting loon is disturbed, it slips off the nest and submerges to keep the location of its nest unknown.

  • Loons are believed to mate for life, but more research is needed in this area.

A Voice from Times Primeval

Intensely private and elusive, more likely heard than seen, common loons are the world's most primitive living birds, dating back 50 million years. The essence of wildness itself, loons capture hearts and imaginations, most powerfully, many would say, with their mysterious calls, which Henry David Thoreau declared nature's "wildest sound."

Strange, then, to think that these wildest of calls should emanate from one of nature's most devoted parenting pairs. Both male and female loons share equally in nest building, egg incubating, guarding chicks, providing food, and giving lessons in fishing and survival techniques until the chicks are self-sufficient.

While Common loons have been a highly successful species over time, they require clean, clear lakes surrounded by deep forests, and these habitats are diminishing throughout their range. They are not federally listed as "endangered" or "threatened," but in a number of states, they are designated as either "threatened" or a "species of special concern," including much of New England (except Maine), the upper Great Lakes region (except Minnesota), and the western United States. If your land provides common loon habitat, placing a conservation easement on it could make a vital difference for the long-term survival of this reclusive and intriguing species.

 

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