Common Loon Common Loon
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Common Loon Migration Update: April 22, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

Fast and Furious Flight!
Loons are on the go! Molted into their beautiful breeding plumage, they are dropping down into clear northern lakes as fast as the ice goes out. We've had 140 records of loon sightings reported to Journey North so far!

Watch for a Data Only update next week. That way, while the loons are busy migrating you won't fall behind on your migration map. (Our next scheduled full migration update is May 6th.)"
Common Loon Migration, 1999

How Loons Select Nesting Lakes
How do loons decide which lakes to nest in? According to Dr. Judith McIntyre, these are the main factors they consider:
  • Clear water
  • Good supply of fish
  • Variety of bottom types and depths
  • Nesting islands with a steep drop-off and a good view of the territory
  • Quiet, protected places to raise chicks

Challenge Question # 9 "Give at least one reason that each of these factors are important for loons to raise young successfully."

(To respond to this question, see below)

Discussion of Challenge Question # 5 "How do loons manage to time their

Report the first Loon you see this spring to Journey North!

arrival on a lake for the very day of, or the day after, ice out?"

The Great Lakes open up before smaller, more northern lakes do. Many loons fly across Pennsylvania and New York to reach the Great Lakes. Then many loons make exploratory flights each morning, moving closer and closer to their nesting destination, and flying back if they don't find open water. Sometimes a loon checks its lake several days before the lake opens up. That means that the loon will certainly be there the day the ice finally goes out.

Discussion of Challenge Question #6: "Can you think of TWO reasons why so

Loon in breeding plumage
Photo: Woody Haage

many of this week's loon sightings are clustered around the Great Lakes?"

First, most of the water in the Great Lakes stayed open this winter, so the lakes were the first place where loons could count on open water. Second, there are so many cities with birdwatchers clustered around the Great Lakes that the loons were quickly noticed there.

Discussion of Challenge Question # 7 "If a loon can migrate 10 hours a day at an average speed of 60 mph, how many places would one need to stop between the Gulf coast of Florida and the south shore of Lake Michigan?"

That loon would be traveling 600 miles each day. Depending on where in the Gulf it starts out, it would be somewhere around 1000 miles to Chicago at the southern tip of Lake Michigan. So the loon would need to make one stopover on the way.

Discussion of Challenge Question # 8 "Why do you think migrating loons frequently fly with their mouths open?"

This may allow them a greater flow of air than flying with their mouths closed would do. Loons frequently make their tremolo call in flight, and they always open their mouths to make this call.

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

Please respond to only on Challenge Question in each e-mail response.
1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #9
3. In the body of your message, answer the question.

The Next Loon Migration Update Will be Posted on May 6, 1999
(Data Only Update Will Be Posted April 29, 1999)

Copyright 1999 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

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