Biodiversity Research Institute
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Loon Program: Translocation and Captive Rearing
Loon Program: Translocation and Captive Rearing

While restoring bird species to their former range is an accepted conservation practice, this project was the first conducted for the Common Loon.

Success for restoring loons to their former range is a three-step progression.

  1. Develop a safe and replicable approach for translocation and captive rearing of loon chicks. See the videos below that show methodology.
  2. Young loons return to the release lakes. Read the press release here.
  3. Translocated loons breed in the areas from which they fledged. Now, in this third step, we continue to monitor the loons for breeding success.

 

Loon Translocation

LOON TRANSLOCATION

A Summary of Methods and Strategies for the Translocation of Common Loons

Translocation involves multiple teams conducting source population surveys, capture and transport, and safely rearing the chicks. This brochure outlines the major steps to develop a viable translocation and restoration process. In addition, we document loons that have returned to their release lakes.

Download the 2020 brochure here.

Methods: Translocation and Captive Rearing

Methods: Translocation and Captive Rearing

In the first phase of this project, BRI researchers developed the techniques and methodology to create a safe and replicable approach for translocation and captive rearing of loon chicks—moving them to a new lake location and confirming that they fledged from that lake.

 

 

Pilot Study - Minnesota

Pilot Study - Minnesota

2014-2016
During the 2014, 2015, and 2016 breeding seasons, BRI researchers, in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, successfully translocated 17 chicks (five in 2014; seven in 2015; five in 2016) from the large breeding populations in northern Minnesota to unoccupied lakes south of the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Chicks translocated in the first two seasons ranged in age between 6 and 9 weeks old; those in the third season were older than 9 weeks.

Pilot Study - Massachusetts

Pilot Study - Massachusetts

2015-2017
In 2015, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, BRI successfully moved seven chicks from New York’s Adirondack Park to a lake in the Assawompsett Pond Complex (APC) in southeastern Massachusetts. In 2016, BRI translocated nine chicks to the APC (four from New York; five from Maine) with assistance from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. In 2017, eight chicks were translocated from Maine to Massachusetts. Overall, 24 chicks were successfully translocated to Massachusetts. 

Identification of Returning Loons

Identification of Returning Loons

2017-19
Six adult loons returned to the lake area in Massachusetts to which they were translocated and captive-reared, and then from which they fledged. Their return marked a major milestone in the efforts to translocate Common Loons.

Read press release here.

Continuing Translocation Studies

Continuing Translocation Studies

2020-2021:
Translocation Study in Massachusetts (Round 2)
BRI is proposing to translocate up to 24 more loon chicks from Maine. 

BRI's Loon Research and Conservation Projects

 

Biodiversity Research Institute