In attempt to improve the survival rate of loon chicks, we began installing nesting platforms in key locations on Kezar Lake and its surrounding ponds in 2014. Because the platforms are covered, and rise and fall with water levels, they provide protection from nest flooding, birds of prey and mammalian predation.
The Loon Project
In 2018, with generous support from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, we were able to retain Lee Attix, a loon expert, to help us better understand and document our loon population’s breeding behavior. With Lee’s input on positioning, this marked the first year that breeding pairs used the nesting platforms, and four of the five chicks that fledged from the watershed were hatched on these rafts.
How are they doing?
Nesting conditions were ideal in 2018, with no heavy rains to flood nests. Three of the ten rafts were used, and all three were successful, while only one chick fledged from the ten natural nests.
Despite the platforms’ success, this year’s chick productivity was still below the established threshold for sustainability. With year-to-year fluctuations expected, we have much to learn in the coming seasons.
To learn more about this year’s work, our 2018 Common Loon Monitoring Summary Report can be seen here.
Loon photos © Laura Robinson
What Can I do to Help?
The Loon Project relies heavily on trained volunteers whom we consider citizen scientists. Training occurs mostly in the field, but also includes computer work. Binoculars and kayaks are great assets.
Our loons arrive in early spring, often before the lake ice is out. Nesting platforms are launched in early May, with loons nesting from late May into July. Our project requires weekly observation and data entry until the chicks are six weeks old. If you are interested in participating, send an email to Heinrich Wurm: firstname.lastname@example.org.