Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) has announced results of its five-year loon study Restore the Call. Among the findings was that a male loon chick relocated from the Adirondack Park to the Assawompsett Pond Complex (APC) in southeastern Massachusetts in 2015 returned to the APC lake from which it fledged.
The identification of this loon (through color bands) marks the first confirmed account of an adult loon returning to the lake to which it was translocated, captive-reared, and then fledged.
David C. Evers, Ph.D., BRI’s executive director and an expert on loon ecology and conservation called it “a major milestone in loon conservation” and the next step in proving that breeding loon populations can be restored to their former habitat.
Once Common Loons fledge from their freshwater lakes, they spend the next three years on the ocean, sometimes migrating thousands of kilometers to wintering grounds. Typically, in their third summer, young loons return to their natal lakes to join the breeding population.
Since 2013, scientists at BRI, headquartered in Portland, Maine, have been conducting one of the largest loon studies ever attempted. The aim of the Restore the Call initiative, funded by the Ricketts Conservation Foundation (RCF), is to strengthen and restore Common Loon populations within their existing and former range. Research efforts, focused in three U.S. breeding population areas from the western mountains to the Atlantic seaboard, include translocation (moving individuals of a species from one area to repopulate another area).
BRI’s program is believed to be the first project designed to restore the Common Loon to its historic range. “Success for restoring loons to their former range is a three-step progression,” says Michelle Kneeland, D.V.M., director of BRI’s Wildlife Health Program and lead researcher for the study. “Our first measure of success was to develop a safe and replicable approach for translocation and captive rearing of loon chicks-moving them to a new lake location and confirming that they fledged from that lake to migrate to wintering grounds.” Kneeland and her team of wildlife biologists and veterinarians accomplished that goal by the second year of the study.
For more information about the Restore the Call research study, click here.
Photo of Loon courtesy Biodiversity Research Institute.