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Environment and Outdoors

Annual Maine Audubon Loon Count Finds That The Birds Continue To Rebound

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Pat Wellenbach
/
AP Photo

The results of the annual Maine Audubon loon count are in.

Adult loon numbers were up over the previous year. During the July count, 3,269 adult loons were counted on southern Maine lakes, and 406 chicks were observed, a slight decrease from the year before. According to the count, the population of adult loons has doubled since the first count took place in 1984.

Director of Conservation, Sally Stockwell, says the strong numbers are likely linked to conservation efforts undertaken by volunteers. In addition to doing the count, she says that volunteers have also been working to educate residents about factors such as loon-safe fishing and no-wake zones for boaters.

"So that the waves don't wash the eggs out of the nest,” Stockwell says. “They also work on helping maintain good water quality by protecting the shoreline habitat, planting bushes- blueberry bushes or whatever it might be- to catch the sediment that goes into the lake."

Loons have struggled over the last century throughout much of the Northeast. A few of the birds were recently re-established in Massachusetts, with only one breeding pair observed in Connecticut. Vermont has about 300 loons and New Hampshire has about 700. In Maine, the actual number is estimated to be closer to 4,300.

Stockwell says while loons are fairly stable in Maine, she warns that the birds continue to face threats to their habitat, as well as new pressures posed by a changing climate.