Give Loons a Lift
When any species changes its habits, there is reason to suspect that all is not well. The common loon, which is found throughout Canada, may not be endangered -- yet. But shoreline developments continue to destroy nesting sites, and recreational activities can seriously disrupt both adults and chicks. Studies show that acid rain kills fish and other sources of food in lakes. So, in very acidic waters, loon chicks can starve.
A national survey on the Common Loon hopes to keep this situation from getting out of hand. The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey relies on well over 2,000 volunteers across the country to monitor lakes for signs of this bird. It is just as important to keep tabs on lakes without any loons as well. Comparing both types will give biologists clues to the birds' survival needs. The CLLSalso 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 participating in this survey. Volunteers need only monitor a lake three times (about an hour and a half per visit) each summer. Encourage others to join this national recovery "team" over the summer holidays. Put together a fact-sheet for family, friends, and neighbours. Include details about the Common Loon and what the survey aims to accomplish.
For more information, contact the:
Aquatic Surveys Officer
Canadian Lakes Loon Survey
Bird Studies Canada
P.O. Box 160
Port Rowan ON N0E 1M0
Toll Free: 1-888-448-2473
Web Page: www.bsc-eoc.org
Make a Loon Nesting Platform
Common loons prefer a solitary existence, but increased cottage development and recreational use of wooded lakes are encroaching on their territory. While loons normally nest on islands, floating vegetation, and shorelines, they have been known to use man-made structures camouflaged with boughs, water bushes (including roots), sedges, and moss.
If you'd like to build a loon nesting platform, choose a site that is sheltered in a bay or protected by thick emergent vegetation. It should be anywhere from three to several hundred metres from shore in water one to two metres deep. Use a boat to tow the platform to its final position, and store it during the winter so it doesn't get waterlogged or damaged by ice.
Loon Nesting Platform
Notch, spike, and wire together five cedar posts about 2 m long x 25 cm in diameter.
Staple 2 m x 2 m of wire (12.5-gauge zinc-coated weld wire is probably best) onto the bottom of three parallel logs. Staple two rows per log, spacing staples 5 cm apart.
Attach two concrete blocks (about 20 cm x 20 cm x 40 cm) to diagonally opposite corners of the platform with 9-m (#9) wire cable and four cable clamps. When the platform is in position, leave 1 m of slack to allow for high water levels.