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Barnes Lake Loons

 

The nest on the platform after eggs hatched

Mother and chick

My neighbour Gerry helping pull out the platform in the spring

Adult loon nesting on platform

  Loon conservation

My wife Kathy and I have become fascinated with the common loon couple that spends its spring, summer and fall here on Barnes Lake. This little lake is approximately 1km in diameter and can only support one loon family. Given these intimate conditions, we’ve been able to study and monitor these mysterious water birds. Someday, perhaps we’ll write a detailed article on our loon observations, but for now, we just wanted to post a success story on loon conservation. During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, we couldn’t help noticing that the loons never had any chicks. We decided to call Bird Studies Canada to find out if this was normal. After explaining in detail the location, conditions and geography of our lake, Bird Studies Canada concluded that Lac Barnes might not offer a suitable nesting location. They explained that loon survival is now threatened by acid rain, intense shoreline development and human activities on many lakes. They suggested we build a floating nesting platform for our loon couple. We quickly gathered the materials and built a 5 'x 5' cedar log platform and covered it with mulch and native plant life. Then we anchored it in a secluded marshy part of the lake where the water was about 5' deep. We put the platform out in the spring and the loons built a nest on it within two weeks. A few weeks later, two chicks had hatched and were swimming along with their parents. It’s been five years since the platform was introduced, and each year, the loons have built a nest on it and have raised one or two chicks. Our simple construction project was a great success, one that gives us the privilege of teaching our own children about the delightful details of loon life and about the importance of conservation.

Did You Know?

● Loons usually return to the same breeding ground year after year and commonly have the same partner for life.

● Loons have solid bones, while most other birds’ bones are hollow. Solid bones allow the loon to dive underwater to depths of up to 200 feet in search of food.

● After hatching, loon chicks are carried on their parents' backs for the first few weeks.

● Walking on land is difficult for loons because their legs are positioned so far back on their bodies, therefore, they make their nests very close to the water's edge. Whether on land or on the water, it’s important to keep your distance from nesting loons or loons with chicks.

● In order to takeoff, loons need a long water "runway" hundreds of feet in length.