Loon Fight
                                                    e-Newsletter Vol. 2
In This Issue
Loons as Biomonitors
Stories from the Field- "As Squam Turns" 2010
Jigs & Sinkers

Upcoming Events

Did You Know?
A loon can carry an average speed of up to 80 mph once in the air
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Loon with fish 
Photo by John Rockwood

e-Newsletter Contributors
Susie Burbidge
Tiffany Grade
John Cooley
Harry Vogel
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183 Lee's Mill Road
Moultonborough, NH 03254
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It's hard to believe it is already the beginning of September and the leaves will be changing soon.  We hope you all had a wonderful summer.  The 2010 loon census saw a record number of participants in recent years; 546 observers covered a total of 132 lakes ranging from Errol all the way south to Fitzwilliam!  A total of 465 adult loons, 78 loon chicks and 5 immature loons were counted.  We are still finalizing the 2010 season totals, but preliminary results show an increase in the number of adults throughout the state.  However, the number of nesting pairs has decreased.  We had a much drier season than 2009 so less nests failed due to water level increases, but we did see more nest predation this year.  Intensive management continued, with a record number of loon nest rafts floated this year.  Over half of the loon chicks hatched this summer came from managed territories (territories with nest rafts, signs, or water level regulation).  Please keep an eye out for the next e-newsletter for the final season results.


A special thanks to all of the volunteers who worked with the field biologists this summer.  We would not be able to do it without your help and continued support. 


We would also like to thank the "Squam Lake Swimming Sisters and Bro" for raising more than $12,000 for Squam Lake loons to date.  With the funds raised, LPC will continue to investigate and hopefully reverse the decline of loons on Squam Lake.  For more information about the Squam Lake Loon Initiative please visit www.loon.org/squam-lake-study.php.

It's not too late to buy raffle tickets for your chance to win a quilted wall hanging, cedar strip canoe or framed loon print.  The drawing will be held at our 18th annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, November 27.  All the proceeds help LPC continue to protect loons and their habitats in New Hampshire.  We hope to see you there!


Until next time,


Susie Burbidge
Volunteer/Outreach Coordinator
Loons as Biomonitors 


Adult LoonAfter many years of banding, we have found that loons in the Northeast have the highest levels of mercury than anywhere in the country.  We banded a total of 26 birds this season; 12 of them were recaptures.  The importance of recapturing banded loons is to track the changes in mercury concentrations over time.  Mercury poses a hazard to the environment and to human health as well as to loons, and atmospherically distributed mercury has become a regional and national concern.  Mercury in New Hampshire's fish has resulted in fish consumption advisories on lakes throughout the state.  These advisories suggest limiting the consumption on freshwater fish to one meal per month for children and women of childbearing age, and to no more than four meals of fish per month for all others. 


Mercury emissions from New Hampshire sources are estimated to be just under 600 pounds per year.  This might seem like an inconsequential amount, but as little as a gram of mercury can contaminate all of the fish within a 20 acre lake.  New Hampshire also receives mercury from mid-western states that is deposited by the prevailing west winds. 


Loons with high levels of mercury in their blood have been found to spend less time carrying out daily activities such as incubating eggs, feeding themselves or their chicks and defending their territory.  They also produced smaller eggs and showed differences in feather growth, which could affect flight capabilities and migration.  With a diet that consists almost entirely of fish, loons are extremely good indicators of the state of our environment and the threat posed by mercury. Like the canary in the coal mine, a healthy loon is an indicator of a healthy, functioning ecosystem.


Photo by Tiffany Grade
"As Squam Turns" 2010

Squam Lake from RattlesnakeAfter the territorial upheavals in the Yard Islands and Sturtevant Cove in 2009, I was eager to see where each loon would settle in 2010.  My first day out on the lake this summer brought some answers.  The former male from Sturtevant Cove continued his liaison with the Yard Islands female with happy results, as they eventually successfully hatched two chicks.  But my first day in Sturtevant Cove made me feel like the summer of 2009 never really ended.  I was happy to spot the female from 2009 and was hoping she would have a better year this year.  It was not to be.  Within 20 minutes of spotting her, I saw the female coming down from Kimball Island, with her mate in tow.  The Kimball female promptly launched an assault on the Sturtevant female.  After much wing rowing down the cove, the Sturtevant Cove female disappeared, while the Kimball female calmly paddled back towards Kimball Island. 


In the subsequent weeks, I never saw the Sturtevant female (who was presumably laying low to recover from the ordeal), but frequently observed the Kimball female in Sturtevant Cove.  After courting an unbanded male (possibly the intruder who came into the territory in 2009), the Kimball female eventually settled on the nest raft in Sturtevant Cove.  However, the former Sturtevant Cove female eventually came out of hiding and was observed harassing the new pair in Sturtevant Cove, trying to regain her territory.  But the new pair held on and successfully hatched one chick in early July.  Meanwhile, the former Sturtevant female continued her efforts to regain a territory, with intrusions in Moultonborough Bay and possibly the Yards Islands, where a female was observed in an all-out battle with the female there.  If this was the former Sturtevant Cove female (as it likely was), this would have set her up to rejoin her former mate.  Not that she cared about that-she just wanted a territory.  Meanwhile, Kimball was occupied by two unbanded loons, who nested unsuccessfully. 


The soap opera on Squam Lake will continue. 
The banding activities of the Loon Preservation Committee allow us to follow these territory shifts and gain a perspective into the lives of these loons which would otherwise remain undetected.  So, stay tuned, as I will, for the continuing saga of "As Squam Turns..."


Photo by Tiffany Grade
Jigs and Sinkers  
                Jig photo         
In the last e-newsletter you read about a loon that died from lead poisoning after ingesting a lead-headed jig.  After speaking to a volunteer, it occured to me that many folks might not know what a jig is.  According to the "Take me Fishing" website (www.takemefishing.org) a jig has a "weighted metal head and a 'tail' made of animal hair, soft plastic, feathers or rubber.  Anglers sometimes add a minnow or piece of pork rind to the jig's hook.  Jigs can be used to catch nearly every kind of freshwater and many saltwater fish." 


A sinker is "a weight of lead or other metals designed to sink a hooked bait or lure.  They range in size from split shot (that of a BB) to a pound or more (also from Take me Fishing)." 


In NH, lead sinkers weighing less than 1 ounce and lead jigs less than 1 inch long are illegal.  Unfortunately the legislation on jigs is not protecting loons enough since a lead-headed jig larger than 1 inch was found in the stomach of a loon that died earlier this summer (see photo above).  If you find lead sinkers or jigs in your tackle box, please dispose of them safely.  There are collection receptacles at many NH Fish & Game offices throughout the state or you can bring them to the Loon Center for disposal.  If you are not sure if it is lead use the "paper test."  If you can write on a piece of paper then your tackle is made of lead.  There are many other alternatives available at tackle shops, including steel, bismuth, tin and other non-toxic metals.


Photo by Michelle Kneeland
The Loon Preservation Committee is dedicated to restoring and maintaining a healthy population of loons throughout New Hampshire; monitoring the health and productivity of loon populations as sentinels of environmental quality; and promoting a greater understanding of loons and the natural world.
Loon Preservation Committee
Save 20%

The Loon's Feather Gift Shop, located at the Loon Center in Moultonborough, is chock full of new and interesting items for loon lovers.  Bring in your coupon and receive 20% off any non-sale item (sorry, this does not include items on consignment).

You can also visit our gift shop online (coupon does not apply to online purchases).