The Vermont Loon Conservation Project is a program of the Vermont Center for Eco studies and partners with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Biologists and volunteers have detected intermittent territorial loon pair activity since the early 2000s. The pair nested in 2013, 2014, and 2019, but all the nests failed due to predation and at least one year to flooding. Loons tend to nest in marshes and on islands to reduce predation of eggs but our loons have yet to find a good spot. The VLCP uses nesting rafts when flooding is a major issue and when loons choose nest sites that conflict with shoreline use. Loons readily flush from their nests when people are close by. After a decade of nest failures, the VLCP decided a nesting raft might be a good option.

On Friday, May 14, 2021, a raft was placed at the far south end of the pond. If the loons choose to use it, nest warning signs will likely be placed to ask boaters to not go right up to the nest site. Kayakers will still be able to access the cove behind the boat launch area as the raft is off to the SE side which is to the left of the boat launch (when looking from the water). Some know it as little pond or the boat graveyard. There’s also a chance the loons will continue their sporadic attempts to nest naturally.

Are you interested in volunteering to monitor the loon pair? It’s great to have many people involved to catch key times, including nest searching and building, nesting, failed nests, re-nests, successful nests, and chick survival through the summer. There is also an annual statewide loon survey on the 3rd Saturday of July, when the entire lake is surveyed.

The VLCP is also looking for volunteers to take on the management of the nest warning signs (if used) and the nesting raft which involves adding shrubs and nest bowl materials in late April or early May. With the presence of a pair, most surveys can focus on what the pair is up to. If you are seeing 2 adult loons for most of May, and then start seeing 1 loon consistently, where did the mate go? Off the pond or on the nest? Most nesting starts between May 20 and June 15. The male and female take turns incubating the eggs with a loon on the nest 99% of the time. Incubation takes about 28 days. The male and female both care for young into the fall before migrating to the northeast coastline.

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Libby at nealpondvermont@gmail.com

To learn more about the Loon Conversation Project click the link below to visit their site.

Loon Conservation Project