June 25 – July 1, 2021Vol. 23, No. 3

The Territory of a Loon

by Dick Greenan

Known loon territories in Great Pond in 2021

What is a loon territory? In our discussions about loons, we sometimes refer to a loon territory and will be in future columns. Great Pond currently has fourteen and Long Pond, eleven known territories. Rather than attempt to assign a specific value to a territory, such as the average territory consists of five acres, etc., territories are in most cases, very specific coves, islands, and even marinas, which is the case here in the Belgrades.

Loons will select territories by weighing the effect of the prevailing winds and subsequent wave action, potential predator activity, human activity, protection from intruding loons looking for a good territory with easy pickings, maybe some shade and protection from avian raptors — think eagles; ospreys are not considered a threat — and maybe just because they think it looks good!

A loon at the Great Pond Marina calls.

Well, if that is the case, then why do we have a nesting loon in the Great Pond Marina? They don't need to gas up. They can't climb the stairs to Sadies. It's hard to find a busier place in the summer! The one factor that could ensure their safety and security is that where they nest is relatively safe from predators. In other words, we don't find eagles hanging around the Marina, although the nesting pair do have to navigate their way through the pontoon boats which they apparently consider a risk worth taking for this prime real estate.

Nesting sites within a territory may change over the years due to individual preferences which makes surveying these elusive birds interesting. They sometimes nest (read "hide") in nothing more than a tiny separation in the shoreline rocks, but always out of the big waves.

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.