“Is it there? In early December, I wake to a grim scene: our pond frozen over, the young loon paddling far out from shore in a tiny black hole of open water. We hope these t-shirts will provide a positive and fun message during a very difficult period. I saw the two males face off: They peered and dipped, rose up, spread their wings, and thrust out their chests, the white flashing in the sun. The man who would save New England’s loons was born at a time of profound, sometimes violent, extremes in American attitudes about wildlife. Despite the late ice-out this year (April 27th, latest since 2001! Pokras sliced open the stomach of the first dead loon LPC sent him and found fishing tackle lodged there. I see one chance to help, and it energizes me. Susie Burbidge, field biologist with the Loon Preservation Committee, the nonprofit that monitors New Hampshire’s loons, drives up in the afternoon. Squam’s loon population has also experienced extremely high levels of mortality from lead fishing tackle. 2018 Full Year! Researchers around New England had more leads than money, no results that definitively fingered a single culprit, but LPC’s executive director, Harry Vogel, spoke of a shared, sinking sense that their work could be touching the edges of a much bigger crisis. Wood’s Mercedes, sporting a LOONS license plate, became a familiar sight around the lake. He sat down, and that was that. Our Work. Since the opening of the reconstructed public boat launch in 2001, the rate of mortality from lead fishing tackle on Squam Lake has doubled and is twice the overall statewide rate of lead mortality during the same period. Feeling heavy, almost resigned, I scan the surface. The bill connects to a dark, rounded head. Wood’s vision of the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) was simple and audacious. Squam: Lead Free, Loon Safe. In the direction of our gaze, a stream runs loud after a heavy rain overnight, and I’m worried about the loons–that the nest they’ve sat on for a week may be inundated, that they’ll abandon it. Ever since 2006 there have loons that call out in the early morning hours. At Tufts, Mark Pokras performed a necropsy on the dead adult and found a fishing jig, made of lead, legal size. A century ago, anglers arriving at Northeastern lakes routinely began their fishing trips by shooting every loon in sight. For a time, we called the male “the intruder.” The female had first arrived on the pond in the company of a smaller mate, and we’d initially attached our hopes to that pair. Loons’ legs, set far back on their bodies, don’t support them on land. mountlombard wrote a review Oct 2020. Jim and I launch a canoe from the nearest shore. “I pity the fish,” says evolutionary biologist James Paruk, “that first met a diving bird.”. There was at least one other place to look for answers. In the years since the 2007 low-water mark, the populations on those lakes had recovered only slightly. Following the spill, 400 dead loons were recovered. Squam Lake Friends, Social Distancing is Hard. It is, I’m afraid, the beginning of the end. In the dozen years we’ve lived by this pond in the southern foothills of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, we’ve had loons only as visitors. The places that appealed to loons appealed to people, too, especially as we sought out lakes for recreation. Loons, he wrote, had become “a totem to the wealthy.”. In time, mining decades of data, loon biologists developed a single number for indexing population stability: the ratio of surviving chicks to territorial pairs. Loons adopted the floating nests. Any day now, the eggs should hatch. A few minutes later, the big male and the female were swimming placidly side by side, looking for all the world like a couple. (Females wage territorial battles, as well, but rarely to the death.) Wood marshaled longtime summer residents around the lake to adopt loons in particular coves or bays. I hand him the binoculars. They’re welcoming us back.” In the movie, loons serve as metaphors for home and family, what we hold onto, what slips away. Chicks hatched–and this type of successful human intervention was picked up by other organizations. The good news from our little pond masks troubling, even drastic, recent declines on some of the region’s biggest and wildest North Country lakes: Moosehead, Rangeley, Winnipesaukee, and, especially, Squam, for so many years North America’s poster lake for loons. Loons fight for the chance to be parents. Squam Lakes biologist Loon Preservation Committee ----- June 2nd, 2018. In the last decade, however, pioneering banding and transmitter work has helped researchers determine that New England’s loons are true Yankees, moving between northern lakes in the summer and the frigid ocean between Maine and Rhode Island in the winter. We’d watched the loons build their nest in that wedge of rushes; over several days, they’d ferried pond weeds and bottom muck to the low hummock. Sir: I read the very interesting article about loons. In the 1960s he tried to do something about it; he wrote to state officials, headed up the lake association’s conservation committee, became active in the Audubon Society of New Hampshire. The rafts were working. When humans appeared on the North American continent, loons were there. ), the loons are off to a fast start! As we approach, the loon rallies briefly, then lies down, curling away from the wind. I have a question: Will it be much too early to return to SquamLake near the end of April? Squam’s summer residents had founded the country’s first formal lake association in 1904, pledging to protect the area from “pollution and misuse.” Frustrated by varying water levels that flooded their cottages or dry-docked their boats, association members threw in some money and bought the downstream dam–and in so doing stabilized water levels for nesting loons. They put up signs and formed floating armadas to protect newly hatched chicks on busy weekends. When Rawson Wood was born into a prominent New York family in 1908, the nation’s first federal bird reservations, which would form the basis of the National Wildlife Refuge system, had been established by President Theodore Roosevelt five years earlier, and interstate trade in the decorative plumage of protected birds had been outlawed for nearly a decade. At the end of the 2010 field season, I’d spoken to Tiffany Grade, LPC’s field biologist for Squam Lake. All reviews golden pond squam lake all ages interactive exhibits boat tour natural science center mountain lion winter walk local animals hands on activities natural environment gift shop great for kids nice picnic area black beans staff was friendly minute cruise white mountains otters zoo enclosures wildlife. By fall, we’re calling the young loon “the juvenile.” Bigger than its mother and almost certainly a male, he badgers his parents for food. From the past many years, nothing has changed from the lake, it’s as busy and quite as it was many years back. After so long, I wonder, is this how the story ends? The Call of the Loon; Appearance; Loon Behavior; Loon Diet; Loon Reproduction; Loon Chick Development; Threats to Loons; Is it a Loon? We look straight into the nest; the pair has built it well. Squam Lake Inn - Bed and Breakfast Inn 28 Shepard Hill Road Holderness , New Hampshire 03245 Phone: (603) 968-4417 | Toll Free: (800) 839-6205 | Fax: (603) 968-3661 The southern edge of its breeding range crept across the borders of New Hampshire and Vermont and continued northward. LPC staffers had to sift through their records all the way back to 1978 to find a year when Squam’s famous waters had produced only one chick. At the end of 2010, $6 million was awarded to mitigate fouled shoreline habitat. In the loon hierarchy, territory comes before mate. I yell up to the house and Jim comes running down. They pummeled each other with powerful wings, each hit sounding like a fist finding bone. Squam Lake, New Hampshire Picture: Loon on Squam Lake - Check out Tripadvisor members' 1,198 candid photos and videos. But while we say that the presence of loons is a sign of a pristine environment, from a loon’s perspective our presence is the sign of a degraded one. Assess causes of nest failure and collect inviable eggs from failed nests for analysis of a wide range of contaminants and pathogens. Nighttime temperatures dip toward freezing. Featured collection. Every time I look out, a loon is there. A loon that lives its full span of 20 to 30 years might raise a dozen chicks, but only if it’s strong and determined enough to defend its territory. Please arrive 15 minutes before your cruise departure time. Attempts to recapture the male proved unsuccessful. You must see “On Golden Pond”! He offers little resistance as I lean over from the canoe and net him. It’s a magical yet a natural spot that became popular from the movie “On Golden Pond,” which was produced in 1981. It was filmed on Squam Lake. I’ve seen loons chasing fish in shallow water and have been reminded not so much of submarines as of torpedoes. I follow its curve to a necklace of white vertical stripes, then out along the loon’s distinctive white-on-black moire wings. We try each summer to visit places that loons inhabit from New Hampshire to Maine– as far as Umbagog and Katahdin. The questions were baffling. Trip Planner: Editors’ Picks for Lake Winnipesaukee, A Perfect Weekend in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, Remembering Stephen Huneck | The Artist Behind Dog Mountain, Swimming Holes | New England Summer Tradition, International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine | Only in New England, Lobster Trivia | New England by the Numbers, Knowledge & Wisdom: How to Build a Backyard Pond, The Best 5 Farmers’ Markets in New England, Best New England Farmers’ Markets | Honorable Mentions, SLIDE SHOW: Market Roots by Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market, Artist Jilly Walsh | Recipes from the Best Cook, New England’s Finest: Baby and Toddler Gear, Field of Her Own: Organic Farmer Tracie Smith, Dinners at the Farm: Celebrating the Land. Susie Burbidge cleaned oiled birds on the Gulf before starting the summer field season with LPC. Deep mysteries remain about loons and their survival, but certain things are known, and the likely fate of a loon lying motionless on December ice is one of them. And it would use those data to learn how to protect them. In Maine, Dave Evers, head of BRI, worried about the effect on loons of toxic cyanobacteria “blooms.” Beyond toxins, were smallmouth bass outcompeting perch, the loons’ preferred freshwater prey? Then he rides the swells out into the bay, carrying the weight of two species, stretches his wings, and dives into the dark water. This video is unavailable. Some wildlife experts were already conceding the loss of loons everywhere in New England outside of Maine. Only once in 25 years had the statewide breeding ratio dipped significantly below the magic 0.48 indicator. the Loon Preservation Committee and the Squam Lakes Association (SLA) helps to protect loon chicks on the Squam Lakes and educate lake users about the needs of the loons. Pokras began keeping his own records, which would grow to more than 1,500 loon necropsies. Squam lake is the beautiful small dab in the mid of New Hampshire, to the few miles to the Northwest of Lake Winnipesaukee. Our juvenile sulks, or so it looks to me, off in a far corner of the pond. Let nature take its course, a neighbor had told me, as I watched the ice come in. The haunting cry of the common loon is vanishing from many New England waters. They’re birds of the North American Far North. In 2007, a single chick survived. Status of Common Loons on Squam Lake in 1999 Amy Wright and Kate Taylor Introduction By 1975 the Common Loon (Gavia immer) population in the state of New Hampshire was in notable decline. A ratio of 0.48 meant that a population on a given lake, or in a given region, was stable. The Squam Lakes Association in partnership with the Loon Preservation Committee warn that boaters, including kayakers, canoers, and paddleboarders, should give nesting loons and adults with chicks plenty of space — at least 150 feet from loons — so the parents can concentrate on taking care of themselves and their chicks. Feeling connected to “their” loons, people gave money to Wood’s organization. It also brought Squam’s loon population to its lowest level since LPC began to survey Squam Lake in 1975. Levels of contaminants from Squam eggs during 2005-2007 were two to nine times higher than levels found in eggs collected from the other lakes. What most bothered her, she said, was one particular–and preventable–death. Three months before that little ball of fluff can feed itself fully, can fly. Successful but highly specialized, loons ended up occupying a lone evolutionary limb. The two birds locked bills. In 1975, Wood hired a biologist to conduct the first-ever full-season field study of loons on Squam and nearby Lake Winnipesaukee. In Maine, where an estimated 4,000 adult loons make up the largest population in the Northeast, biologists from the BioDiversity Research Institute (BRI) found that reproductive success had tanked in most breeding areas, from Down East to the Rangeley Lakes. A single pair discovered at Quabbin Reservoir in 1975 grew into a population of 50 adults on a dozen Massachusetts lakes three decades later. How significant were the lab results, given all the factors that historically affect loon nesting? An adult loon feeds a minnow to a loon chick last week on the northern end of Squam Lake. In the mid-1800s, Henry David Thoreau studied loons on Walden Pond. Umbagog, a sprawling lake in forested northern New Hampshire and extending into Maine, had claimed the highest concentration of nesting loons in the state. Blowing snow piles up against his back. Was some unseen “point source” of these toxins leaking into Squam? Go one mile to the end and turn right onto Lee’s Mill Road. The male seems to think so, too, because he occasionally yodels with no predator in sight, no eagle or small airplane passing overhead. At a loon store in New Hampshire (near Squam Lake) I purchased a teaching CD on loons. I think, Your care is what stands between your baby and death. Gradually, counts ticked upward. If loons are to survive the territorial battle taking place right now at the southern edge of their range, it will be human beings who must adapt. The Big Questions: How Do You Keep Smiling for 50 Years? Near the end of the Cretaceous period, ancestral loons moved from land onto the oceans to exploit an ecological niche: Warm-blooded, they could expend more aerobic energy than the fish on which they preyed. Across the country’s northern tier, states and volunteer organizations drew on what Wood’s group had learned from loons on Squam. That same year, in a story that has the polish of legend among loon people, Rawson Wood stood to his full six-foot-plus height at an Audubon board meeting and announced that he was forming a committee for the preservation of loons. Now I want their two eggs to hatch, the chicks to grow and fledge. The views of the mountains are breathtaking, the water is so clean and fresh we didn't hesitate to jump in. Wood’s family summered on these island-filled bays and coves, spread seven miles along the corrugated southern edge of the Great Northern Forest. Eliminate lead in fishing tackle, and get boaters to travel at no-wake speeds near nesting and brood areas, and–despite the dizzying environmental complexities–the New England loon population hits carrying capacity. He’s getting his break at last, I think, lowering the binoculars. The loon lingers for a brief moment. During a winter storm in 1996, the barge North Cape ran aground off Rhode Island. Eventually too tired to continue fleeing, the smaller male turned to fight. They developed a migratory pattern that endures to this day: breeding on fresh water, wintering on the ocean, returning year after year to the same territories. The days grow shorter and colder. Only the bigger male reappeared. Loons nest in late May and normally lay two eggs, which hatch after 28 days. “Loons are still in the queue,” says Vogel. Wood’s fate and that of loons would intersect at a singular place: Squam Lake in central New Hampshire. The problems quickly spread down the generations. The Fourth of July holiday arrives. Wood sent a worker to help build log rafts, four feet on a side. In 1983, only seven pairs of loons had nested in the entire state; by 2005, the year Vermont removed loons from its endangered-species list, 53 nesting pairs had produced 57 surviving chicks. Your turn with the eggs! Loons were slowly recolonizing southern New England, as well. Unlike their cousins, the penguins, loons kept the ability to fly. Why had the declines disproportionately affected the large lakes? Fish & Wildlife band around one leg, then drives him to a rehabilitator in Maine. He called their wails “perhaps the wildest sound that is ever heard here.” But fishermen didn’t see a mystical symbol when they saw loons–they saw competition. The steel hook could have disintegrated over time, but the sinker, made of soft lead, had poisoned the bird. Then during the spring and into the summer of 2010, crude oil poured from the destroyed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana. Vogel feels along his keel and isn’t surprised to discover his flight muscles underdeveloped, the bird seriously underweight. The constancy of the sitting–in rain, in wind, in heat–strikes me as real work. (The next day, Susie Burbidge will collect the egg for possible testing.) Center and Wildlife Sanctuary are on the Lake to adopt loons in Chesapeake Bay and the! 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