June 11 – 17, 2021Vol. 23, No. 1

First Call

by Dick Greenan

A 2020 loon family on a floating nest in upper Long Pond.

Welcome to the inaugural column of the "Call of the Loon!"

As you may know, our Belgrade Lakes Association is into their third year of their Loon Preservation Project to develop a responsible comprehensive plan in order to support our loon population in a sustainable manner.

In the past several years we have had a respectable adult population but as of late, 2020 in particular, Great Pond had only one chick that fledged, in other words, made it to their six week life span which can be so easily shortened due to predation, boat traffic, and most unfortunately, territorial disputes. Long Pond fared somewhat better with three chicks fledging.

We just completed our first survey of the 2021 season on both Great and Long Ponds two weeks ago in order to assess each of our loon territories where we have or had activity in the past. Our loons typically nest around Memorial Day and, with an average 27-28 day gestation period, we should expect to see our first chicks as early as Father's Day on June 20 this year up until around the 4th of July. As of last week, we have only three nests on Long Pond with egg(s), but it's still a bit early and by tomorrow it could be an entirely different prognosis.

This spring, we have refurbished four of our existing floating nests and placed two new floating nests, both on Great Pond. Some have referred to these new nests as the "Taj Mahal" of loon nests and I have to agree.

A mama loon greets her newborn chick (lower right).

We have purposely not disclosed the exact locations of our Loon Nesting Sanctuaries as they need all of the privacy that we can afford them. The State-wide 200′ No-Wake Zone, although important for so many obvious reasons, when actually practiced, is just not adequate to ensure our loon's safety. Well-intentioned canoers, kayakers, and in particular paddleboarders, result in way too many birds being flushed from their nests because the birds perceive a threat from a standing human.

Dick Greenan is chairman of the Belgrade Lakes Association's Loon Preservation Project. If you have a particular question regarding our Belgrade loon population, please email your inquiry to info@blamaine.org, and he will try to answer you either in this column or via email.