Massachusetts is the only state where breeding loons were extirpated and have subsequently returned as a sustainable population. Common Loons have made a modest comeback since 1975, with 44 territorial pairs observed in 2018. However, the population of breeding pairs is primarily limited to Worcester County, located in the center of the state.
Lead Investigator: Lucas Savoy
See our loon biologists at work in this Migration Productions video, shot in Massachusetts in the summer of 2015.
Partnered with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), BRI is assessing the overall health and status of the Common Loon population in Massachusetts through surveys, banding efforts, and nonlethal sampling of blood, feathers, and abandoned eggs.
In 2014 and 2015, BRI, working in collaboration with MassWildlife and DCR, dedicated staff to support existing state agency loon survey efforts, while independently expanding statewide surveys to help fill in critical data gaps. Field research efforts emphasized broad survey coverage to assure a reasonable accounting of the current state population and productivity numbers, while gathering specific information on known breeding individuals, such as site fidelity through band returns.
Conservation and Management
Disseminating information in a comprehensive and thorough way is key for improving loon productivity and expansion to new areas.
The goal of the Restore the Call initiative is to strengthen breeding populations in their existing range and to restore loons to their former breeding range. This research will advance our understanding of loon ecology and allow us to apply that knowledge to help restore the integrity of ecosystems where loons once thrived. State working groups and associated conservation plans will be developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, MassWildlife, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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