When any species - even a common one - changes its habits, there is reason to suspect that all is not well. The common loon, which is found throughout Canada, is not endangered - yet - but shoreline developments continue to destroy nesting sites, and recreational activities can seriously disrupt both adults and chicks. As well, studies show that acid rain kills fish and other food sources in lakes. In highly acidic lakes, loon chicks can starve.
A national survey on the common loon aims to keep this situation from getting out of hand. The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey (CLLS) relies on thousands of volunteers across the country to monitor lakes for signs of this bird. It is important to keep tabs on lakes without any loons as well. Comparing both types will give biologists clues to the birds' survival needs. The CLLS also distributes signs that can be posted near nesting areas, and provides plans for nesting platforms to help loons that have been displaced by human disturbances.
• You can give loons a lift by joining this survey. Volunteers need only monitor a lake three times (about an hour and a half per visit) each summer. Check out the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey website to find out more!
• Aside from taking part in the CLLS survey, you or your group can educate others about loons. Put together a fact sheet for family, friends, and your community. Include details about problems facing the common loon, and what the CLLS aims to accomplish.