Adult & chick_website


                                                    e-Newsletter Vol. 32
In This Issue
Event Spotlight: Yakking for Loons

Upcoming Events

July 10; 7:30 pm

July 11; 8 am - 12 pm

July 17; 7:30 pm

July 19; 8 - 9 am

July 19; 10 am - 2 pm

Photos courtesy of 
Kittie Wilson
What's that call?
Have you ever wondered what the different loon vocalizations mean?
Contact Us 
P.O. Box 604
Lee's Mill Road
Moultonborough, NH 03254
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As of June 30, approximately 180 pairs of loons have initiated nests around the state.  It's always hard to tell at this time of the year how they are doing compared to previous years, but we will keep you posted as the summer goes on.  Every day we get reports of loon chicks, but several pairs are still incubating eggs.  Please remember if you happen to come across a loon on a nest or an adult with chicks to give them plenty of space.  There's nothing worse than hearing from an observer that the loons were "dancing" on the water!  If you would like to learn more, click here to read our loon behavior brochure. 
We got a very unusual report from a lake in our Seacoast monitoring region last week.  A chick drifted into a different territory and was adopted by another pair that already had two chicks!  
Photo courtesy of Seacoast field biologist Tim Demers.
LPC volunteers suspect that the wandering chick was being bullied by its sibling.  Unfortunately this is not an uncommon occurrence and can often lead to the death of one of the chicks.  The first chick to hatch has a slight size advantage over the other and tends to be more aggressive when it comes to getting food from the parents.
Photo courtesy of Jan Williams.

There are a lot of events coming up this month including "Yakking for Loons" (see below), our Summer Nature Talk Series, the Loon Census and Loon Festival.  

Photo courtesy of Libby Corbin.

If you haven't visited The Loon Center now is a great time to come for a visit.  A pair of loons is nesting off the Markus Sanctuary on a raft that LPC floats there every year.  The raft is visible from a vantage point along one of our hiking trails overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee.  The chicks are due to hatch around July 22, but even after they hatch the family will often spend time in the bay.  The Loon Center is now open 7 days a week from 9 am - 5 pm through Columbus Day. Another great opportunity to see loons is on one of our guided Loon Cruises on Squam Lake.  Click here for more information. 


Approximately 120 people attended our annual luncheon last Sunday. Thanks to everyone who came to support LPC on a beautiful afternoon. We also had a packed boat on the Lake Sunapee Loon cruise last week. Forty people came out in the pouring rain for the 2nd annual event. A major highlight of the evening was a perfomance by Sunapee field biologist Matthew Bartolotti.  He sang a song written by LPC volunteer Kittie Wilson called "Love, Love, Loons!"  The song is to the tune of "All You Need is Love" by the Beatles.  Sorry for the boat noise in the background--hopefully we'll get an opportunity to film it again, but I didn't want to wait too long before sharing it with you.  Click here to listen.  Warning: You will be singing it for the rest of the day!


I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend,



Yodellay-hee-who??  Deciphering the necessity of communicating individual identity within the territorial yodel of the common loon.

By Jay Mager*


As a behavioral ecologist interested in learning more about the ecological needs to sustain strong loon populations, I have spent the last 15 years trying to better elucidate the messages and meanings communicated by the territorial 'yodel' vocalization given by male common loons, and what role it plays in the process of territory selection and defense.


Initially regarded as a mating call, yodels are territorial threat vocalizations given by only male common loons when they reestablish and defend territories.  The yodel acoustically complex, consisting of two important features: an introductory phrase consisting of 3-4 rising notes that is followed by a series of 2-syllable repeat phrases (see below).  Though every yodel a male gives consists of a single introductory phrase, a male can vary the duration of a yodel by adding or subtracting repeat phrases.

A sonogram of a yodel, depicting the change in frequency (measured

in kilohertz) over time (measured in seconds).  Each yodel a male produces contains a single introductory phrase of rising pure tones that is followed by a series of 2-syllable repeat phrases (this one has four repeat phrases).

Working with Dr. Charles Walcott at Cornell University, we have found the yodel communicates a lot of information about each male.  Firstly, the yodel communicates information about a male's condition-dependent fighting ability through the dominant frequencies of the yodel: larger, better-conditioned individuals tend to produce yodels with lower dominant frequencies. Additionally, the yodel communicates information about the aggressive 'motivation' or willingness a male is to escalate an aggressive interaction, if necessary, by adding repeat phrases to its yodel.  Lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, the yodel appears to communicate information about the male's identity. 


A yodeling Common Loon.  Males can assume one of two postures while yodeling: the 'crouch' posture (shown here) in which the male stretches its neck out just above the water surface, and the 'vulture' posture in which a male 'stands' on the water surface and stretches its wings out like a sunning vulture.  Photo courtesy of Jay Mager.

Why male loons produce yodels that are individually-distinctive is a fascinating question we've spent considerable time examining within loon populations in northern Michigan and Wisconsin.  One benefit of communicating identity is that it can facilitate the recognition of territorial neighbors from territorial rivals or threats that may be useful in reducing anxieties between males occupying adjacent territories.  A second benefit of communicating identity may be to facilitate mate recognition.  In particular, mate recognition may benefit a female to distinguish potential threats to her and/or her chicks, particularly among loon populations where infanticide can occur.  Additionally, another benefit of communicating identity may be to facilitate kin recognition.  Young male loons often return to the same area where they were born to establish territories of their own.  To maximize inclusive fitness, it could be predicted that it would be better for a loon not to challenge a closely-related individual (such as a brother or a father or a son) for a territory, but rather an unrelated individual.  Hence, it may be beneficial for loons to have a mechanism, such as a vocal signal, to recognize closely-related individuals during their selection of the breeding territory.


Although we have made significant strides in our understanding of the messages and meanings of this fascinating vocalization, we really have just begun to scratch the surface regarding all of the possible information that is communicated by this, and other acoustic signals within the loon repertoire.  Future investigations of loon acoustic communication will be of great interest not only to ornithologists and behaviorists, but also to those interested in how communication can influence other aspects of loon population dynamics/ecology.


*Jay Mager is professor of Biology at Ohio Northern University and he has been studying loons since 1991.  

YakkingYakking for Loons
A Kayak-A-Thon to support loon preservation in New Hampshire
July 11, 2014
 (rain date July 14)
Registration fee is $10 per person (includes a light lunch)
Registration deadline is July 8

Please note: There is no minimum age requirement, but a parent or guardian must accompany minor children.

Registration will start                            8:00 am
Launch                                               8:30 am
  Light lunch provided by Curt's Caterers    11:30 am 
Launch is from Lees Mill Landing with the course in the Green's Basin area of Lake Winnipesaukee.  Spotting boats will have water available for kayakers.  
LPC biologists will be on hand during registration.


Free t-shirt with $50 in pledges.
All proceeds benefit the 
Loon Preservation Committee!

Visit for more information and registration forms, or call 603-476-LOON


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.

Susie Burbidge
Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator
Loon Preservation Committee