Volunteers are asked to visit ponds and lakes on that Saturday from 8 to 9 am and count the number of adult and immature loons they see.
Loons generally arrive for the summer breeding season in May. Their young birds hatch from eggs in late June and early July during the first round of breeding. Loons can also lay eggs later in the summer during a second round.
The loon population in New York is estimated to be between 2,000 and 2,500 birds. That number has been slowly increasing over the years.
Loon censuses similar to this one will be conducted in other states throughout the Northeast simultaneously to inform a regional overview of the population’s current status.
The data is used by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the BioDiversity Research Institute.
“We use this data for a couple of reasons,” said Zoe Smith, director of WCS’s Adirondack Program in Saranac Lake. “One is to complement the data that Biodiversity Institute collects on productivity of loons, (and) also to monitor the population over time.”
She said the information will also be used as part of a study looking at the potential impacts of recreation on wildlife.
In addition, the results help guide management decisions and policies affecting loons, according to WCS.
Generally, a few hundred people take place in the loon census statewide. That includes some participation outside of the Adirondack Park.
“It is just a great way to engage people, to get out and appreciate wildlife and get involved in research,” Smith said.
“We gain an important regional picture of the loon population each year through the Annual Loon Census,” Smith said. “We are indebted to the hundreds of volunteers who participate as citizen scientists in this important research. Only through their participation and dedication are we able to assemble so much valuable information to help guide future management decisions.”
This year, WCS will be including an additional set of questions to gather information on the types and amount of on-water recreation occurring during the census period.
Photo courtesy of Julie Larsen Maher: Loon.