2023 Lake Vermilion Loon Count

By Joanne Bergman, VLA Volunteer
Adults, singles, and chicks
Throughout the lake from east to west, volunteers counted 156 adult loons, almost as many as last year’s 161. All boats reported a total of 156 adults and 29 chicks. The grand total is 185, a number close to last year’s 192.

Sixty-six observers spent 45.5 volunteer hours compiling the data on this, the 40th anniversary year of the Loon Count on Lake Vermilion.We owe a debt of gratitude to Mardy Jackson and Barb Shook, who initiated the Vermilion count in 1983. At the time, the count took place during the fourth week of July. According to the DNR, this is the forty-third summer of loon counting in Minnesota, and today loons and their chicks are tallied on 157 of our 10,000 lakes.

The DNR conducts two kinds of loon monitoring. Some lakes count every week, and others conduct one observation during a 10-day window, usually in early July.
Four groups were new to the count, owing to moves, passing, or retiring from loon counting. Facilitator Clair Zweig suggests that this may be “the only way new people can become part of the coveted volunteer position of loon counting.”

Comments from those reporting included, “It was a fun but windy day,” “Numbers on Big Bay were way down,” and “Lots of loons were spotted flying overhead.” One group saw a deer swimming, and several boats sighted banks of white swans and white pelicans, and all are unusual and fun to see.

The LVA asks observers to report an approximate number of cormorant sightings. Accuracy is difficult because a flight of the birds is often too large to count. This year’s cormorant total was 189, down from over 215 in 2022. Joanne and Warren Anderson saw their first and only cormorant ever in Black Bay, and observers along Wakemup and Niles counted just 10, all singles.

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