Will you join us?
On the morning of the third Saturday of July each year, more than 900 volunteers venture onto lakes and ponds across the state to count loons. The observations recorded by our citizen scientist volunteers provides an excellent “snapshot” of Maine’s loon population.
The 2018 Loon Count will take place on Saturday, July 21. To sign up, contact Susan Gallo at 207.781.6180 x216 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Send her your name, address, and the lake or general area where you would like to count. We will be in touch in the spring with details.
Results of the Loon Count
Over 34 years, citizen scientists have helped us collected invaluable data that has allowed us to chart the progress of the state’s loon population over time.
Following the 2016 count, Maine Audubon estimated 2,848 adults and 384 chicks in the southern half of the state (south of the 45th parallel, roughly south of a line from Rangeley to Calais). For adult loons, this is virtually the same as the previous year’s estimate of 2,817 adults, although it is about 7% lower than the average of the previous five years, which was 3,069 adults. Overall, the long-term trend remains positive (see graph).
We were pleasantly surprised to find we had a 76% increase in the estimate of chicks compared to the previous year. Looking back over the last 15 years, 2016 was the third highest chick estimate on record. One explanation for 2016′s high chick count is that with low water levels, loons might have delayed breeding until later in the summer. Chick loss to predation during the first week of life is high, so in 2016 we might have counted some chicks who in most years might not have survived until Loon Count day. Another possibility is that, with the change in lake levels, loons might have moved to new, more productive nest sites where they experienced less predation and less flooding.
Results of the 2017 Loon Count will be posted here as soon as they are available.