Loon Monitoring on the Lake

Photo by Trip Kinney.

If you see lights out on Lake Champlain in the next few weeks it’s probably not UFOs. The Adirondack Cooperative Loon Program will be conducting night time surveys of loons on Lake Champlain. Researchers have found that going out at night with spotlights allows them to sneak up on the birds and trap them with nets. They can then take blood samples to check for mercury and lead levels and evaluate immune response. They also tag the birds in order to track where they come from and where they are going. The project is a cooperative effort between the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, the Biodiversity Research Institute, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.  

Lake Champlain’s summer loons are typically young adults, not yet ready to defend breeding territories. Smaller ponds in the Adirondacks, Quebec, and eastern Vermont are more likely to support breeding pairs. However, loon populations throughout the region have increased in recent years. As more desirable habitats become filled, breeding on Lake Champlain could increase.