e-Newsletter Vol. 47
In This Issue
LPC's Spring Work Day
Late Winter News

Upcoming Events

What's for Lunch?
Fish Lead Free
Stay Connected
Join Our Mailing List
Contact Us 

When I started writing this newsletter at the beginning of last week, I was watching snow fall outside my window.  Usually this is a welcome sight, but after the strange winter this year with very little snow and the appearance of crocus, day lily, and tulip shoots in my yard, I was not very excited!  Lake Winnipesaukee had the earliest ice-out on record (by 5 days) on March 18 and reports of returning loons started coming in just a few days later.  The first photo-documented loon was seen on Massabesic on March 22 and was looking quite dapper in its black-and-white attire!
First returning loon photographed on Massabesic Lake in Auburn, NH.  Photo courtesy of John Rockwood.
By now, we have gotten reports of loons in the southern half of the state, but we are still waiting for them to arrive on the northern lakes.

At this time of year, common mergansers, Canada geese, and other species of waterbirds are returning to our lakes as well.  From a distance, a male common merganser may be confused for a loon, but the reddish bill and bright white sides are a good contrast to the black, dagger-like bill and the black-and-white checkered back of the loon.
Top: Male common merganser photo taken by John Rockwood.  Bottom: Common loon photo taken by Kittie Wilson.

On the same day that I sent out the last e-newsletter in mid-February, another iced-in loon was being rescued by skate sailors on Lake Winnipesaukee, between Ellacoya State Park and Locke Island.  Click here to read more about this and other winter rescues.

All told, LPC rescued 9 iced-in loons this winter and assisted with 2 other crash-landing cases bringing the total number of rescues to 11 so far in 2016.  Three of the rescued loons had lead poisoning which shows how much of an issue this is for our loons, not just during the busy summer months.  The "ice factor" also makes us wonder just how much climate change is going to affect loons in New Hampshire in the future.
While we were keeping an eye on the last of the stranded loons, LPC volunteers Kittie & John Wilson were keeping an eye on some wintering loons off the coast of Maine.  For the third year in a row a banded loon, a female from Mooselookmeguntic Lake in Maine was spotted in Biddeford Pool.  This is really an important piece of information which supports research about winter site fidelity in loons.

A banded loon is observed in Biddeford Pool, Maine for the 3rd consecutive year.  A quick dive clearly shows the bands on the loon's left leg which match the photograph taken in 2015 (bottom).  All photos above courtesy of Kittie Wilson. 

The 27th meeting of the Northeast Loon Study Working Group was held at The Loon Center on March 17-18.  This meeting allows us to share our work, network with other loon researchers and think about ways to collaborate on future projects that will benefit loons throughout the Northeast.  The 2016 agenda included talks on Adirondack nesting loons, molting in winter loons, malarial parasites of the common loon, the Squam Lake Loon Initiative, and climate change, just to name a few.  We were able to compare rescue stories & techniques with colleagues in Vermont & New York who also had more iced-in loons this year than in years past.  I always feel so energized (and slightly brain-dead) on my way home from this meeting because this group and the research the members are doing is quite impressive!

Three final notes as I end this newsletter: John Cooley completed a 9-hour Lifesaving Ice Rescue Technician training course in early March to help him safely rescue iced-in loons.  Also, LPC was awarded an All Star Award from Constant Contact for the 3rd year in a row!  This award is given to only 10% of their customers who "excel at using Constant Contact's tools to engage with their own customers and build great relationships."  Thank you for continuing to read LPC's e-newsletter!  Lastly, this week is National Volunteer Week so I'd like to thank all of our volunteers who help us throughout the year.  We couldn't do it without their help!

Until next time,


WorkDay2016LPC Spring Work Day is on April 22!
(and it's Earth Day too) 

Help build loon nest rafts and signs
The Loon Preservation Committee's
Spring Work Day
Friday, April 22, 2015, rain or shine. 
9 am - 2 pm
(or any part of that time that you can attend)

The Loon Center
183 Lee's Mill Road
Moultonborough, NH 03254
  • Come help get ready for the return of nesting loons! We need your help to build 4 new nesting rafts and 10 signs to help protect loon nests. Volunteers and LPC staff expect to float close to 90 rafts and over 100 signs this season!
  • Wear work clothes and bring work gloves, ear plugs, and safety glasses if you have them (also available from LPC). Cordless drills and basic carpentry tools may also be helpful--please check with us if you have questions about whether to bring them.
  • Bring a bag lunch. Snacks and beverages provided by LPC.
  • It's fine to attend for part of the 5-hour workshop.
  • If you aren't available on the workshop date but want to help this spring, please contact us.
  • Please RSVP to John Cooley by email (jcooley@loon.org) or telephone: (603) 476-5666.
We're looking forward to another
productive day!
LateWinter2016Late Winter Rescue News

On February 12, a banded loon was discovered on recently formed black ice near a few feet of open water.  The "Ellacoya" loon was originally banded in 1999 at the Buzzell's Cove territory on Winnipesaukee where it bred until 2010.  It was most recently captured on the Copps Brook territory in 2013, but was not seen on a territory in 2015.  The loon was transferred to LPC Senior Biologist John Cooley who then relayed it to Avian Haven for further care.  At first the loon was doing great, eating well and gaining weight, but after a few weeks it took a turn for the worse and died on March 9.  There were areas of concern on an x-ray of the air sacs, meaning the loon most likely had aspergillosis, a fungal infection that affects the respiratory system.  That might be why the loon did not leave the lake before it froze.  Many thanks to skate sailors Lee Spiller, Rudy Meyers and Martin Kimbell for rescuing this loon.  Experience definitely played a part in this one--Lee Spiller had rescued a loon on Squam Lake in January 2013 and knew just what to do! 

Skate sailers, Lee Spiller, Rudy Meyers and Martin Kimbell rescued an iced-in loon on Winnipesaukee on February 12.  Spiller also rescued a loon on Squam Lake in January 2013.  Photos: Martin Kimbell. 

Remarkably, one more loon was spotted by ice skaters in late February on the Broads of Winnipesaukee, where wind had cleared many acres of open water.  The loon and open water were present during several checks of the area, until the weather warmed in March and the lake thawed.  These sightings probably constitute the first successful overwintering of a loon documented on Winnipesaukee in recent times.  

Sadly, the Sunapee lead loon that was rescued in January died at Avian Haven last Monday.  It appears that this loon was also overtaken by aspergillosis, a fungal infection that compromises the loon's respiratory system.  From the beginning we didn't know if this loon would be able to make a full recovery given the very high lead exposure, but the experimental treatment seemed to help return some of its normal functions.  However, once the infection set in, its overall health started to decline.  We learned a lot from this loon which will help with other cases in the future.  And although this is sad news, we can celebrate the other eight loons that were successfully rehabilitated and released this winter!  One other side note about the Sunapee loon--I originally mentioned that the loon passed a lead sinker, but once we had the lead object in hand, we saw it was a small ice-fishing jig.

The month of March was quieter for us in terms of loon rescues, but unfortunately I cannot say the same for our colleagues in Vermont who rescued 8 loons from Lake Champlain.  Click here to read the full story.  Great work by Eric Hanson, VCE's Vermont Loon Conservation Project Coordinator and the volunteers who helped him.   
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