Michigan Loon Preservation Association: Supporting Michigan Loonwatch: Michigan's Official Statewide Loon Monitoring, Research and Protection Group
Michigan Loonwatch Operates Under the Direction of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Following the Guidelines of the Michigan Loon Recovery Plan

Monday, March 7, 2011

Michigan Loonwatch: The Statewide MDNR Loon Recovery Plan Research Project

Loon Monitoring and Protection
"Brand New Family" by Lesley Lewis, Loon Ranger

Michigan Loonwatch
was begun in 1986, designated and set up under the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to create and then to operate under and following the guidelines and recommendations of the Michigan Loon Recovery Plan, which it does to this day. The Recovery Plan was based on the experience and knowledge of Michigan biologists as well as of leading loon biologists Dr. Judy McIntyre and Dr. Paul Strong, and the North American Loon Fund.

Michigan Loonwatch Loon Rangers have helped guide, oversee and protect loons and provide data on loons and their territorial and feeding lakes throughout Michigan for over twenty-five years. A total of over 4,200 baby loons have been nurtured, helped and protected to successful fledging throughout the entire state during these years.

For more information on the Michigan Loonwatch Program, please visit:
www.michigan.gov/dnr. Click on "Wildlife and Habitat", then on "Research Projects". Michigan Loonwatch will be listed to click on.

Michigan Loonwatch: Statewide:
*Loon Protection and Monitoring, *Education, *Research
Operating under
*The direction of Michigan DNRE and the guidelines of its Michigan Loon Recovery Plan
*The support of MLPA and as an affiliate of Michigan Audubon Society

Michigan Loonwatch Educational Programs
"MLPA-MLW Loon Display" by Paige Calamari, Intern (CMU)

Michigan Loonwatch Loon Research
"Early Spring Observing in Michigan's U.P." by Joe Rogers, Wildlife Recovery, MLW

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Early Knowledge About Loons

"Mom Feeding Baby" by Laura Tom, Loon Ranger
A Voice From Long Ago: Early Knowledge About Loons
By Joanne C. Williams, State Coordinator MLPA and MLW

One of my most enjoyable interests is to search out old research and writings about the loons. Recently, I found a wonderful book: Life Histories of North American Diving Birds: Order Pygopodes by Arthur Cleveland Bent, a biologist commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution to research bird species in America. It became his life’s work, and he published many volumes covering many species. This one on the diving birds, published in 1919, immediately captured my interest. Bent’s earliest personal observation of loons is noted for 1872, near his New England home, with quotes from others throughout the 1800’s and first decade of the 20th century, with several quotes from Audubon’s 1840 works.

A section of the Loon (Gavia immer) pages I found particularly interesting, especially at this time when we are so concerned and wanting to find out more about loon migration. We know that loons have been studied for centuries, and there is very little information that has not been already discerned about them. How did the people and scientists back in earlier days learn about the loon life cycle and habits? By observation; and it appears that there were observers in a great many places, carefully recording and reporting what they found.

This book lists the areas and dates of loon migration in Fall and in Spring; and also lists breeding range (greatly diminished over the past century, as we know) and winter range, as well the egg dates, which tell us that those loons are on territory. From these observations, made over 100 years ago, we can know more about loon migration patterns, and we can also see that things have not changed much as to where the birds migrate in their seasonal travels.

This is only one of many books and records. We can see that people have been seriously observing and studying these birds for many years, and have known their needs, lifestyles and habits. The Loons' beauty and specialness has given them a place in peoples' hearts. Our energies and resources today need to go not to repetitious studies that verify information known over 100 years ago, but instead to use what we have learned and to expand protection efforts for the loons and their habitat.

It gives us pause to consider the populations of loons numbering in the thousands just here in Michigan a century ago, and how they are today on our state's Endangered Species list, and, thankfully, now protected by both Michigan and Federal law. We will never again see the numbers as they once were, but we can do our best to to protect and preserve the loons we have left. That is what the loons most need right now, and that is the mission (now twenty-five years on) of MLPA and Michigan Loonwatch, and the mission to which our volunteer Loon Rangers are wholly committed. To lose this treasure would be to lose part of ourselves forever.
Mission Statement of the MLPA

The Michigan Loon Preservation Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve the Common Loon as a breeding bird in Michigan through public education, research and the protection and management of loons and their habitat.