Restore the Call: A New Scientific Initiative

Restore the Call
A Scientific Initiative to Restore and Recover Loon Populations to their Former Range

Supported by a grant from the Ricketts Conservation Foundation, which first proposed the idea, Biodiversity Research Institute has initiated the largest conservation study for the Common Loon (Gavia immer), a key bioindicator of aquatic integrity for lakes and near shore marine ecosystems across North America. This initiative provides an opportunity to identify current major threats and create solutions that strengthen current populations and restore loons to their former breeding range.
Download the Summary Brochure


Restore the Call Presentation to introduce
the components of this project.
Restore the Call - Learn why this is a critical time
for the Common Loon in North America.
Meet the people behind the project and learn about the science.

Study Components

For the first five years of this project, there are three components:

Population Assessments
Outreach and Conservation
Research and Restoration




Study Regions in North America

Northeastern Region

Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine
Home to more than 1,100 lakes, Massachusetts offers prime habitat for breeding loons. Extirpated in the early 20th century, Common Loons returned in 1975 as a nesting species. Over the last four decades, loons have made a comeback—in 2013, there were 36 territorial pairs statewide. However, breeding loons remain restricted to only a part of their former Massachusetts range. Larger populations in New Hampshire and Maine will be studied to determine how they can best contribute toward restoration efforts in Massachusetts.

Midwestern Region

Minnesota boasts nearly 12,000 lakes that are larger than 10 acres. The 4,600 territorial loon pairs in Minnesota represent 52 percent of all loon pairs in the Lower 48 states (8,800 in total). However, about one-third of the loon’s former range is still unoccupied in the state. Efforts over the next few years will include an evaluation of the quality of the many lakes in southern Minnesota to determine if restoration efforts should proceed to help loons expand back into their former range.

Western Region

Wyoming, Montana, Idaho
The entire breeding loon population in the western United States is approximately 100 territorial pairs—most of those are in Montana (72). In Wyoming, only 14 territorial pairs were found in 2013; in Idaho, just one pair is known. The challenge for Wyoming’s breeding loon population to continue is that it is small, declining, and isolated (more than 220 miles distant from Montana’s breeding population). In Wyoming, the loon is considered the highest ranked species of conservation need by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Our study will investigate current threats, how they might be reversed, and how Montana’s breeding population can be used to help support the continuation of Wyoming’s struggling population.

Receeding glaciers formed deep, clear lakes that provided suitable habitat for breeding loons. Photo © BRI-Jonathan Fiely

Range of Common Loon Breeding Populations

Map designed by RavenMark

Collaboration is Key

BRI’s Center for Loon Conservation is actively involved in assisting state and federal agencies in loon monitoring, capture and banding efforts, and development of management plans to ensure long-term reproductive success. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service contracted BRI to develop that agency’s first Conservation and Management Plan for the Common Loon (2007), which is being revised in 2014.
Download the full 2007 report.





Status Reports for the Common Loon

State working groups and associated conservation plans are in development in partnership with various state and federal wildlife agencies and nongovernmental conservation groups. The Loon Status Reports are available for Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, and Wyoming.

Restore the Call: Massachusetts Status Report for the Common Loon Restore the Call: Minnesota Status Report for the Common Loon Restore the Call: Montana Status Report for the Common Loon Restore the Call: Wyoming Status Report for the Common Loon


Project Funding

Funding for this project has been provided by the Ricketts Conservation Foundation, which was formed to support the conservation of wildlife and natural resources. this grant represents potential for change in the way environmental research is funded.

Shifting Trends

Governmental agencies have fewer and more limited resources in proportion to the ecological changes and stressors we face in today’s world. as a result, a paradigm shift is underway in how wildlife conservation is funded. the government agencies that have been entrusted with the welfare of our wildlife and wilderness areas are increasingly dependent on resources from individuals and private organizations for work that traditionally has been funded by federal and state agencies.

Leaving a Legacy

Private donors are realizing an urgency to funding environmental work, and they see how they can make a difference to the quality of life for future generations.