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                                                      e-Newsletter Vol. 38
In This Issue
Have Dinner & Support LPC
Raft Building Workshop
Spring Molt

Upcoming Events

Loon Center Hours
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Now that we have passed the Vernal Equinox, I think we are all anxiously awaiting ice-out here in New Hampshire. I don't think it's going to happen for a few more weeks though!

Approximately 40 people attended the 2-day NELSWG meeting hosted by LPC.  The meeting was a big success with talks ranging from a national loon health assessment, winter site fidelity in Common Loons across North America, malarial parasites of Common Loons, and population-level effects of lead on loons, just to name a few.

You may recall that I included a photo of a banded loon in the last e-newsletter, taken along the Maine coast by Kittie Wilson.  After much perseverance and dedication, Kittie was able to get more photos of the same loon on March 27, again in Biddeford Pool.  We are now certain this is the female who was banded on Mooselookmeguntic Lake in Oquossoc, Maine, in 2012. Interestingly she was photographed in the same location in March of 2014 as well-- another confirmation that at least some loons exhibit site fidelity on their wintering grounds. Very cool!

In the top photo you can see the bands on the left leg.  More preening revealed bands on the right leg too.  The silver band is a US Fish & Wildlife Service band that has a unique serial number.  Since it's impossible to read this number in the field, we also use color bands to help identify individuals.  Photos courtesy of Kittie Wilson.


We got another report in March of a banded loon near Harpswell, Maine--turns out that individual is from a lake north of the Rangeley Lakes.  In addition to the excitement of finding a banded loon on the ocean, the different molt sequences of these loons is also quite fascinating.  See below for more pictures of loons in early spring.


We will be sending out a more formal announcement soon, but please save the date for our annual Summer Luncheon & Benefit Auction on June 28.  This year's luncheon will be extra special as we will be celebrating our 40th year of preserving loons in New Hampshire!  We are fortunate to have Willem Lange as the Guest Speaker at this event.  Some folks may recognize him from the "Windows to the Wild" show that he hosts on NHPTV.  The luncheon will be held at Church Landing in Meredith from 11 am - 2 pm.  We hope you can join us!


All the best,



Susie Burbidge

Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator

Support LPC While Dining Out!

As part of their FACT (feed a charity Thursday) program, Lavinia's in Center Harbor will donate 10% of their sales on April 16th to support LPC! 

Stop in and enjoy dinner for a good cause!  

For menu and details please visit
Raft & Sign Building Workshop on April 17

Join LPC Senior Biologist John Cooley for a raft and sign building workshop on Friday, April 17 from 10 am - 2 pm at The Loon Center in Moultonborough.  Please bring a bag lunch; LPC will provide snacks and beverages. Wear work clothes and bring work gloves, ear plugs and safety glasses if you have them (also available from LPC). Cordless drills and carpentry tools may also be helpful--please check with us if you have questions about whether to bring them. RSVP to John Cooley by email ( or call 603-476-5666.

Volunteers Norm Lesser and Harold Quinton help John Cooley build a new loon raft during LPC's 2014 spring work day.  Photo courtesy of Libby Corbin.

SpringMoltSpring Molt: So Many Unanswered Questions

As you learned in my intro, it appears that some loons may return to the same locations on their ocean wintering grounds just as they do in the summer on their breeding lakes.  Biologists refer to this as site fidelity.  Interestingly, the female from Mooselookmeguntic Lake (that was resighted in the same location on the coast in the winters of both 2014 & 2015) was not part of a mated pair when she was banded in 2012 and she has not been resighted on any breeding lakes in Maine (or NH) as far as we know.  So, where does she spend the summer?  And when does she leave the coast to head inland? In late winter, adult loons grow a new set of flight feathers. This is followed in early spring by the replacement of the rest of their winter plumage with the beautiful black and white feathers that we recognize and love.  Is there a difference in spring molt sequence based on the age or sex of the loon?  You can see in the photo below, taken on March 27, that she has just barely started molting into her breeding plumage.

However, the loon below was also photographed in Biddeford Pool by Kittie Wilson on the same day and is pretty far along in its spring molt.

And up in Nova Scotia you can see the loons are somewhere in between (in terms of molt sequence). 

In the photo above, a wing flap shows the newly molted flight feathers coming in.  Photos from Nova Scotia courtesy of Reigh Higgins.  Photos of loons from the Maine coast courtesy of Kittie Wilson.

These pictures bring up many interesting questions regarding molt.  Where are these birds migrating?  Do males molt earlier than females so they can return to their territories first?  Does migration distance play into this at all?  I don't know if we will be able to answer these questions soon, but it reminds us how much we learn about loon life history through our banding efforts.
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