This post is to notify Association members that both loon parents have left our lake and will soon make the trip south to their winter home somewhere on the Atlantic coast/Gulf of Mexico. This means that the two chicks will be left behind to fend for themselves for the next 6 weeks to two months. Then they, too, will begin the journey to the coast and without their parents to guide them.
The chicks will begin to fly sometime within the next two weeks. For now, they are practicing but haven’t managed to achieve lift-off. Please keep your eyes pealed for them. Without the black and white markings of the parents to identify them, the chicks kind of blend in with the ducks as they continue to have that dull gray coloring and will maintain this color for the first two-three years of life. The parents will molt to the gray color this winter on the coast and will get the black and white coloring back just before they return to this area next year.
Already the lake seems quiet and unnatural without the calls of our Six Mile Lake loons, but the chicks remain, although they will not call out like their parents did for some time. See if you can hear the soft hoots of these young chicks. Please caution your friends, visitors, neighbors, and especially the goose/duck hunters that we still have young loon chicks on the lake and that they are gray not black and white.
The biologist, Joe Kaplan, said that he loves to see loon chicks that have been ‘socialized’. Ours definitely have been. They have spent many a Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the middle of the lake riding out the waves of passing boats and seeming to enjoy every minute of it.
Three of the four loons were banded…mom was not. The chicks are ‘orange 87’ and ‘yellow 89’. The big male loon is ‘blue 88’. The bands are easy to see. The chicks will not return to this area for three years, but, hopefully ‘blue 88’ will and raise another family with his mate.
We are looking for people to join us as loon scouts. It’s an easy job…kind of like babysitters for the loons. If you are interested please call me or Kelly at 231-544-2781. You do not need to be here year-round or even every week-end. We need every pair of eyes we can get whenever we can get them to ensure the safety of our loons. They are still a threatened species and every person can play an important part in their re-establishment.
We are also still looking for donations to help with this years banding. Please send your donation, in any amount, to the SMLA Box 421, Central lake, MI 49622 and be sure and earmark it ‘loon banding’. Every $10 helps us get closer to the goal of $1161. Should we go past this amount the funds will be used for next years bandings.
You will not want to miss the next Association meeting, this next Saturday September 8 at 9am at the Pleasant Valley Free Methodist Church. In addition to our elections (this year we will even have a ballot) our guest speaker will be Peg Comfort, area loon coordinator, and head of the Loon Network. She has been at the forefront of the re-establishment of loons in this watershed for many years and she has some great stories to tell as well as all kinds of information about loons.
I would also like to thank the members who have contributed so far to the loon bandings and will list those members next month on the website.
Contributed by Cherie Hogan