ProjectsLakes and PondsCommon Loon ConservationVermont Loon Conservation ProjectLoon Nesting Rafts

Loon Nesting Rafts

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VCE works with hydroelectric dam operators to stabilize reservoir levels during loon nesting season. On waters where levels do fluctuate, loons are finding success with “nesting rafts.” These floating nest sites mimic islands and help loons succeed.

completed-nesting-raftNesting Rafts: Tales from Five Lakes

Rafts work, plain and simple. Why don’t we place them on any lake experiencing nesting failure or on lakes to “attract” nesting loon pairs? The philosophical discussion begins.

The VLCP’s official viewpoint, with loons now off the state endangered species list, is that a raft should be considered if a loon nest fails repeatedly over many years or if a first-time natural nest is located in a site of conflicting uses (e.g., on an active beach front). There are exceptions to these guidelines, of course. Benefits exist to having lakes without nesting pairs, especially large lakes, because both non-breeding and breeding loons can congregate on these lakes for feeding and socializing without as much risk of territorial battles.

The VLCP has placed some new nesting rafts for different reasons.

Anchoring a nesting raft on Ricker Pond

Anchoring a nesting raft on Ricker Pond

Rafts are not a sure thing to mitigate for shoreline development or flooding, but they are a useful management tool. In the early 2000s, more than 10 nesting rafts were removed after years of being repeatedly placed without loons ever using them. In most cases, no territorial loon pair was present and in some cases, good natural nest sites were available. It takes much time, effort, and funding to place, maintain, and monitor loon nesting rafts. Therefore, we’re careful about when and where to use them.

Download our Vermont Loon Nesting Raft Guidelines