It’s been a record year for Vermont’s loons in 2017, and part of the success story happened on Lake Fairlee, where a pair of loons nested for the second consecutive year. Biologists Kent McFarland, Sara Zahendra and Eric Hanson headed out in canoes to take a look at the nesting sites and check on the loon chick. Join them as we learn the story of the Lake Fairlee loons and how volunteers are helping VCE and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department conserve Vermont’s loon population on Lake Fairlee and across the State.
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- Vermont Loon Conservation Project: A joint project between the Vermont Center For Ecostudies and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, this project started when there were a mere seven loon pairs three decades ago to more than 90 breeding pairs in the state. This conservation triumph came only with a collaboration among people and organizations across Vermont.
- Join LoonWatch and help us monitor loons near you.
- A hidden camera captured the nesting habits of of the loons on Lake Fairlee.
- Loon Caller, an annual newsletter about Vermont’s loons, offers in-depth explanation of field work, science and conservation efforts and a few views behind the scenes.
- Learn more about Common Loon population changes from the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life.
- You can see a map of Common Loon sightings on Vermont eBird and report your sightings to help us monitor and conserve loons.
Images from the show
Outdoor Radio is a monthly feature produced in collaboration with Vermont Public Radio with support from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation. The program is produced by Vermont Public Radio chief audio engineer Chris Albertine.
Are you aware of bald eagles having an impact on loons on VT lakes? At the small lake in Maine where I have a camp, loons are very common. A pair of bald eagles have been on the lake for the last ten years or so. Few loon chicks seem to survive very long anymore. A neighbor witnessed an eagle killing an adult loon on its nest this past July. The eggs were rescued immediately and brought to an Audubon rehab . They hatched two days later but the chicks didn’t survive, unfortunately.
Eagles will likely have a greater impact on nest success, chick survival, and even adult survival at some point in the future as eagle numbers continue to increase. In the past few years in Vermont, we’ve had volunteers and lake residents report only 1-2 chicks disappearing annually shortly after eagles were observed harassing loon families. Most causes of failed nests and chick loss are unknown, thus eagles could be contributing to these losses but were not observed. We’ve had numerous reports of eagles diving at loons on and off all summer long, and chicks are still surviving through August on most of these lakes. And lastly, the number of chicks surviving per territorial pair in Vermont has consistently been 10-30 percent higher than the North America average over the past 25 years. Maybe eagle pressure and competition between loons will bring Vermont’s productivity averages down closer to normal over the next several decades. Eric Hanson, Vermont Loon Conservation Project Biologist
Thank you so much for your response. I am passionate about loons so I appreciate the information. No doubt Maine, especially near the coast, has a much larger population of eagles than Vermont so are already having an impact on loons.