2019 Spring Loonacy… By Sharon Young

Tis a frozen tundra on Little Sebago (LS) today. We saw a good 6-8 inches of the white stuff this week and have 2+ feet of ice hiding under the new snow. No thoughts of “Ice-Out” / “Loons IN” for quite some time I’m afraid. Yet, I am already excited about their return and the possibility of an expanded Loon Observation & Conservation Program coming soon. A recap of Summer 2018: Little Sebago hosted 9 territorial loon pair in 2018 and an undetermined number of non-territorial individuals. All 9 territorial pairs did nest. One pair nested twice after losing their first egg to predation. The 9 nests resulted in 11 chicks hatching and resulted in 8 “fledged” chicks. One chick was lost prior to reaching a “fully fledged” stage. So, we saw 7 chicks survive the 2018 season. • A territorial pair is a mating pair that establishes a nest. • A loon chick is said to be “fledged” once their down feathers have been fully replaced. At this stage they will have all the characteristics of an adult loon (shape and features) but not the black and white coloring (breeding plumage) we are so accustomed to seeing. • By 12 weeks they will be beginning flight training and are said to be “fully fledged” once able to fly.

By all accounts these numbers represent outstanding “productivity”. LS 2018 productivity was exceptional at .78 when compared to regional averages and the sustainability benchmark of .48. Loon productivity is typically subject to significant fluctuation year- to-year. Thus, tracking productivity over time by collecting good data annually is key to seeing long- term sustainability trends. We are committed to continued tracking efforts for many years to come. Prior to 2018, 19 loons had been banded on LS in the period between 1997 and 2015. In 2018, in addition to frequent informal volunteer efforts, we conducted three formal surveys together with Lee Attix of Loon Conservation Associates. Lee has been engaged in Loon research for nearly 30 years and has worked the waters of Little Sebago frequently. The 3 surveys were able to identify 10 different banded individuals (53%) still in residence on the lake. All 10 were occupying a territory. It is possible that other banded loons were present here as well, but our focus was on territorial pairs, so they may have eluded identification. Of the 10 banded individuals we identified, five occupied the same territory where they were originally banded, while the other five were occupying different territories. The by and far most outstanding finding of 2018 was


Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online