Thursday, July 13, 2017

Loon Center Open House Coincides with WCS Loon Census

With its black and white markings, haunting call, and bright red eyes, the Common Loon is one the most recognizable animals in the Adirondacks. As a top aquatic predator, the loon is also an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. This year marks the 17th annual Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Loon Census, which has helped track environmental toxins, disease, climate change, and habitat loss by monitoring these iconic birds.

Though Saturday’s Loon Census is organized by WCS, the organization relies on volunteer citizen scientists to help with field work. Individuals are encouraged to sign up to monitor a specific lake by canoe or by foot to count the loons and chicks on July 15 between 8-9 am. This event, as with other Citizen Scientist projects, puts important data in front of scientists while allowing participants to learn more about loons.

According to The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation Executive Director Nina Schoch, the Loon Census is just one arm that completes the picture of the health of the Adirondack water system.

“The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation has just relocated to our new office at 15 Broadway in Saranac Lake,” says Schoch. “We collaborate with WCS and help promote the Loon Census. We are a recently formed non-profit and decided to celebrate with an open house at our new location.”

Whether people are able to be out in the field for the Loon Census or not, the doors will be open July 15-16 from 10 am – 4 pm at the Saranac Lake Adirondack Center for Loon Conservancy (Adirondack Loon Center) to provide additional information regarding these aquatic predators.

“We hope people will stop in to meet us and learn about what we are doing here,” says Schoch. “We continue to conduct long-term loon monitoring and the effects of mercury pollution. We monitor trail cameras at nesting sites around the Park. We place signs at boat launches so people won’t disturb the nesting areas causing the loons to abandon their nests. A large part of our job is loon rescue.”

Schoch and her staff look forward to adding museum quality exhibits on loon natural history and habitat to their space while continuing their research. The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation evolved from research conducted through the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) in 1998. The study helped track the impact of coal-fired power plants role in environmental mercury pollution and its impact on aquatic systems through North America.

“We banded loons in 1998 and have a good history of their reproductive success,” says Schoch. “We’ve taken feather samples to monitor long-term mercury exposure as well as blood samples to track mercury in recent meals. Mercury contamination in our water system effects everyone.”

Volunteers for Saturday’s Loon Census may call 518-891-8874, x 106 for more information or to find out additional ways to help with WCS Citizen Scientist projects. The Adirondack Loon Center’s Open House is free and takes place on Saturday and Sunday.

Photo provided by the Adirondack Loon Center

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

9 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Does the loon in this photo have a fishing lure or something on it? What is that red and white thing.

    I am happy to see the loon population thriving on the lake we are on. What used to be a bird you saw maybe occasionally on the bigger lakes around us (usually only saw them on the ponds) is now very common. I see an hear loons everyday now. A pair has been nesting near a water ski course that we use for years now. The inboard ski boat doesn’t bother them in the least. Love to see those babies on the parents back!

    • Boreas says:

      Looks like a surface popper plug. Since they don’t sink, it is likely someone was winging lures at it or near it.

      • Boreas says:

        I suppose it also could have gotten tangled in a section of broken line that was never recovered.

    • Geogymn says:

      Could be some kind of identification tag. I saw a loon last week with a similar red and white plug attached towards the back end of the bird. I just assumed it was a wayward fishing lure.

  2. Smitty says:

    We’re very lucky to have loons on our lake (Star Lake). Love to hear them call at night. Its the essence of the north woods. In recent years the jet ski traffic has really increased. Might this affect loon nesting success and/or drive them off the lake?

    • Paul says:

      First let me note that I hate jet skis. But I don’t know if there is much of a correlation between jet skis and loon populations. It is only anecdotal but we have many more jet skis on our lake than we used to have and we also have many more loons. I would say statistically if the loon numbers are up park wide and jet ski use is up they probably don’t have much of a negative effect. I think than when I was a kid we were told that loons needed a relatively wave free area to nest since they nest so close to the waters edge. But like I said I see loons nesting on lakes that have lots of large motor boat activity and they seem to be reproducing pretty well. My guess is it getting rid of DDT. When we were kids we also used to see planes spraying for bugs (that nasty thin film you could see on the water). We didn’t have as many bugs but we also didn’t have too many loons.

  3. adirondackjoe says:

    We have a lot of loons in robinwood park in long lake.

  4. Fred Guevara says:

    What is the address of the Loon Center?

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