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The Maine Loon Project

nesting-loons-june-leduc Common Loons are one of Maine’s most charismatic wildlife species, representing the wild and remote nature of much of our great state. The Maine Loon Project has worked for decades to assess the status and future of Maine’s loon population, from annual loon counts to advocacy in the state legislature. Staff and our citizen scientists have worked to promote clean water, healthy lakes and quality habitat for loon populations today and into the future.
Check out past Loon Count results here.

New Maine Loon Project Initiatives in 2016

Signs of the Seasons
Maine Audubon is partnering with the University of Maine to boost observations and reports for loons and their chicks throughout the summer.  Volunteers are tracking the changes they see in loon families (when chicks hatch and how they age through the summer) using the on-line tool Nature’s Notebook.  FMI, please fill out a Volunteer Interest Form or contact Esperanza Stancioff at [email protected] or Sasha Breus at [email protected]

Loon Smart
A new initiative in partnership with the Maine Lakes Society, Loon Smart offers Lake Smart homeowners the opportunity to meet additional standards for their property that will help conserve loons and their habitat. To learn more about Loon Smart and how to bring Lake Smart to your community, contact Maggie Shannon at the Maine Lakes Society (207)-495-2301 or email [email protected]org.

Pilot Detectability Study
Loon count data has generated endless questions…how have loon numbers changed north to south? East to west?  On larger vs. smaller lakes? As we look ahead to the possibility of thoroughly analyzing the 35 years of loon count data that we’ll have collected by 2018, we realize how much statistical models for monitoring and survey data have evolved in the last decade. So this year we are conducting a pilot study to get an estimate of detectability. Detectability is the likelihood that the results from a survey represent the actual number of organisms in the survey area. Many of you have experienced the frustration of knowing your lake has one more chicks, but not actually finding them in the official half-hour count window. Getting a detectability estimate around the count results will help us refine our population estimate and allow for a more thorough analysis of historical data. Please consider contributing to this project if, outside of loon count day (but during same time, from 7:00 to 7:30 a.m.) you can:

  • Repeatedly survey one lake or area of a lake on two or more subsequent days (you can include the count day as the first observation and survey again the day after…or survey the day before and the day of the loon count.  Surveys can be done any time in July.
  • Survey the lake at the same time as another counter (either from the same point on shore, in the same boat, or on different boats but surveying the same area)

Download the Loon Detectability Study Data Sheet.

Annual Loon Count – July 15, 2017

On the morning of the third Saturday of July each year, more than 900 volunteers venture onto lakes and ponds across the state to count loons. Their reports provide an excellent “snapshot” of Maine’s loon population.To sign up for next year’s count, contact Susan Gallo at (207) 781-6180 x. 216 or e-mail [email protected] with your name, address and the lake or general area where you would like to count.We would love to have your help!Or fill out the contact form below, we’ll be in touch next spring with details about the 2017 count. Thanks for your interest!

Check out past Loon Count results here.

Common Loons in the Classroom Curriculum

Maine Audubon has developed a classroom curriculum for grades 3 through 6 centered around the loon and its lake habitat.For more information, visit the Common Loons in the Classroom page.

Spread the Word!

There are lots of ways you can help with the outreach and education activities of the Maine Loon Project. Schedule a presentation of “The State of Maine’s Loons” for your local garden club, lake association or civic group. This 45-minute multi-media presentation walks you through a year in the life of a loon in Maine and features stunning photographs from recent loon photo contests at Maine Audubon.

You can also distribute “Living in Loon Territory” brochures to your town office, library or lake association meeting. This large-format brochure has information about how to live alongside loons and highlights times of the year when they or their chicks are most vulnerable. For more information about any of these outreach efforts, contact Susan at [email protected] or (207) 781-6180 x.216. Thanks for your help!

If You Find an Injured Loon…

We receive reports every summer of injured loons on our lakes and ponds or loons with their bills wrapped in fishing line. Unfortunately, Maine Audubon does not have the staff, expertise or equipment to help with any loon “rescues.”

If You Find a Dead Loon…

The Wildlife Clinic at Tufts University and Biodiversity Research Institute collects dead loons from across New England to determine the cause of death.

If you find a dead loon and you are willing to collect the body, please double wrap it in two garbage bags.

If the body is definitely fresh (diedwithin 24 hours, very little smell or rot), please send an email to [email protected].  That will reach a priority inbox and we will work to try to get that carcass down to Portland ASAP with the hope of conducting a fresh necropsy.  Fresh necropsies give us a lot more information about the bird and the possible causes of death, including malaria and other cellular conditions.

If the time of death is unknown and/or the carcass has a strong odor and/or some rot, please get the body into a freezer ASAP.  The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is usually willing to share freezer space if you can get the carcass to one of their regional offices (FMI, 287-8000)

IF you freeze a carcass, please call Susan Gallo at (207) 781-6180 x. 216 so she can add you to the Maine Audubon permit for bird collections.  We will work to get the frozen carcass from you as soon as we can.

Fish Lead Free

Maine Audubon is in its third year leading the Fish Lead Free initiative. This initiative coordinates lead-free outreach across the northern tier of the U.S., allowing states to add their own information to a cooperative website (’s activities include Lead-Free Tackle exchange kits (available to any individual or group who wants to host an exchange or collection event), tackle boxes for kids stocked with lead-free tackle, and presentations for groups interested in learning more about loons and the impacts of lead. FMI, email,[email protected]