It's been a very busy week for the loons on Squam, with a mixture of good news and bad news. The good news is that we had three pairs of loons go on the nest on Big Squam in the last week! Two of those nests are doing very well, but, unfortunately, the other nest was destroyed by a mammalian predator within two days. There are two other pairs that are showing serious interest in nesting, and hopefully they will settle down soon!
The other piece of sad news is that the nest on Little Squam was destroyed by a predator as well. This is not surprising, given the location, but disappointing nonetheless.
This week, our "Meet the Loons of Squam" series takes us to Dog Cove/Heron Cove, one of the pairs that is currently nesting. This is another one of Squam's well-established pairs, with many years of experience behind them. What makes this pair particularly interesting is their reaction when things don't go well for them!
The male was banded as an adult in 2001 in the Great Island territory, so he is probably at least 20 years old now. He was at Great Island from
2001-2006 and had a truly remarkable run there, producing nine surviving chicks during those years. He was not recorded on the lake in 2007, but by 2008 he was in the Dog Cove/Heron Cove territory. He paired with the current female, who arrived and was banded in the territory in 2009, and they have been together ever since. Together, they have successfully hatched chicks every year except for last summer and produced two surviving chicks.
Given the success this pair has had together hatching chicks, last year's failure to do so clearly threw them for a loop. Most pairs that have nest failures on a more regular basis seem to cope with them, but this pair "overreacted." After the initial failure on their traditional artificial nesting platform last year, they tried a second nest attempt on a site that was very exposed to wind, waves, the hot sun, and predators. The results were predictable, and the nest failed within a week. Fast forward to this spring--as usual, this pair was all set to get an early start on nesting. Still unwilling to return to their nesting platform, they chose an even worse spot--a washed up piece of floating dock section that was temporarily lodged against a boulder (see attached picture). They abandoned this nest within days, perhaps realizing this was not a good spot. Since they were clearly desperate for a different nest site, Loon Preservation Committee gave them a second artificial nesting raft as a better option to washed up docks, etc. Happily, they are now ensconced on this new nest raft, and I am hoping they will be very successful there! Plus, I hate to think where they might try to nest next if they aren't!
Let's do everything we can to help Squam's loons nest successfully!Please ask your neighbors and other lake users to respect the roped and signed nesting areas and maintain a respectful distance from loons out on the water (at least 100 feet).
Feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or reports, and please visit www.loon.org to learn more about loons. Thank you for your interest in Squam's loons!