Loon Nesting Platforms … Year Two

As soon as the ice turns to open water, male loons arrive to claim their territory. In 2017, two new floating nest platforms were positioned by lake association volunteers in areas with low boat traffic where natural nest locations were inadequate.

Though we did have some interest in our west platform, it was not used for nesting purposes. Worse yet, there were no sightings of loons sizing up our east platform. So, simply put, our platforms were rejected last year. This, despite our best efforts deploying the platforms right after ice out and offering them a “homey and safe” place to raise their young; soft dry grasses for nesting, overhead guards to protect the loon chicks from attacks by eagles; and anchoring the platforms far enough from shore to discourage land-based predators. With no activity, we removed the platforms from the lake in early August.

For Year Two, the platforms have been modified with the addition of some live vegetation which will green up as the season progresses. Immediately after ice-out, they were re-deployed in the same location as last year. Loons tend to return to the same breeding territory, so we are hopeful that when they return this spring the platforms will be a familiar site and, therefore, more likely to be used by the birds. If one of our platforms is occupied by a loon pair, our goal is to equip it with a mini-camera linked to our Vermilion Lake Association website.

Vermilion Lake Association volunteers have been counting common loons lake-wide for 35 years. In 2017, volunteers documented 202 loons during the annual mid-July count.

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