Little is known about the behavior, movements, habitat use, and timing of migration of loon family units after the summer breeding season.
This project aims to address some of these knowledge gaps by closely following family units across New England.
Through this project we expect to gain an understanding of how loon family units interact after chicks fledge, and the timing and order of departure from territories for migration. Specifically we would like to determine:
Researchers began field data collection in 2013. The initial study area for this project comprised 21 lakes or ponds located in three states—Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Early surveys eliminated four lakes where no loons were found; four other lakes were eliminated as the data collected was incomplete due to limiting field conditions. This left 13 lakes where frequent, successful surveys were conducted throughout the study period.
In 2014, loon families on 18 lakes were monitored (two in Massachusetts, nine in New Hampshire, and seven in Maine).
In 2015, loon families on 17 lakes were monitored (one in Massachusetts, 10 in New Hampshire, and six in Maine).
After the first three years of the study, 33 different lakes/ponds have been monitored, with a total of 42 territories.
Loon family units are monitored throughout the fall via shoreline surveys, kayaks, and motorboats. Binoculars and spotting scopes are used to identify parents by their unique color combination of leg bands, or by differences in size and/or molt variation. When field conditions allow, each territory is monitored twice a week.
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