Good News, The Loons are Back!

Message From SMLA President Cherie Hogan:

Hey everybody….the loons are up on the north platform. The female loon was banded last year and returned to reclaim her platform and probably her mate is the same male (not banded) according to biologist Damon McCormick. This is the same time that the pair were on the platform last year. If successful again this pair should have loon babies around June 6th. How exciting!

Nothing going on however on the south platform.

I spoke with Damon McCormick, one of the wildlife biologists that monitors loons in upper Michigan yesterday and he said that the female loon we banded last August has returned to Six Mile Lake with her mate…most likely the same loon she had the two babies with last year. If all goes well we should expect two new loon babies again this year which will make Six Mile Lake a top loon producing lake given the time we have been involved in the program. The south platform perhaps one day will host a separate loon pair but, according to Vicky and Prez, last year’s loon pair are at the north platform where they raised their young last summer. They also saw the eagle perched and watching the north platform so now you know the reason for the design of the platforms. The rope across the top is Kelly’s version of an eagle guard which prevents the eagle from swooping down on the nest while the parents are incubating the eggs.

Three years ago, we banded three loons on Six Mile Lake, Blue 88, the big male and both chicks, Yellow and Orange 89 and 87. Damon has not seen Blue at all so we don’t know if he was one of the victims of the botulism epidemic that wiped out over 1700 loons alone on Lake Michigan two years ago. According to Damon almost one quarter of the loon population was lost to botulism. However, this should be the year that our first two baby loons, should return to the Watershed. They will most likely not return to Six Mile but when Damon spots them he’ll let us know where they are.

Our resident swan pair will also attempt to raise their babies again. They are on a magnificent nest just north of the platform. Contrary to what the DNR is preaching across the State of Michigan, swans are not predators of loon chicks. Not only are they not listed as such on the Michigan Loonwatch website, I also have verified this with our biologists, as well as the director of Michigan Loonwatch, and other loon rangers across the State. Swan babies are at risk from the eagles and most likely this is what happened to the trio of babies we had a couple of years ago. The biologist told me that neither loon chicks or cygnets are at risk from snapping turtles as the parents are able to keep a close watch on their young in the water. Eagle attacks occur when the eagle makes a direct swoop down on the swans separating the babies from the parents.

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