LoonWatch volunteers watch for loons. It's that simple. And it's a vital component of loon conservation in Vermont. LoonWatch exemplifies VCE's passion for uniting citizens and science for conservation.
LoonWatch volunteers can join us for a single day during our annual loon count in July or monitor a lake or pond on a regular basis. In each case, LoonWatchers provide VCE with essential data on the management, protection, and continued recovery of Common Loons across Vermont. Here's how it works:
- Annual July LoonWatch – On the third Saturday in July of every year, LoonWatch volunteers take to the water to count loons. It’s the single most effective way for VCE to document and track breeding loons across the state. Our next July LoonWatch will be in July of 2024.
- Adopt-a-Lake Program – Help monitor a lake with known loon activity. For lakes with nesting loon pairs, volunteers regularly monitor the nest weekly or every two or three weeks (depending on loon activity) from mid-May through August. On lakes with loon activity but no nests, volunteers visit and monitor the the pair one to four times a month from mid-May to mid-July.
- Focused Surveys – Help us fill in the gaps on lakes and ponds where we could use more loon surveys. Is there a pair present this year? Has the pair nested yet? Are they still on the nest? Have the chicks hatched out? Did the chicks make it through the summer to fledging age? We also want surveys from lakes where loon activity is not well documented. Do loons even use a specific pond or is a pair possibly forming? Knowing which ponds loons do not use helps us guide our efforts. These focused loon surveys are ideal for people who like to get out to lakes but may not have the time to consistently observe a lake throughout the summer. You can go at any time and report your sightings on Vermont ebird or directly to the VLCP coordinator. It’s a great excuse to explore new areas or visit favorite haunts.
- Loons on Vermont eBird – Any loon sighting is worth recording for science. Whether you join a LoonWatch effort or not, please add your loon encounters to the growing collection of data contributed by casual and expert birders alike on Vermont eBird.