What Makes a Good Loon
to Cornell graduate student Jay Magers (top) and Dr. Walter
Piper (just above), who share their research with us. Walter
Piper reminds us:
"It's a great battle in a loon's life—whether
female or male—to first acquire a territory and then
hold on to that territory over time, despite many intruders
in and trying to take its territory away."
are some things that make a good loon territory:
clear water for chasing fish visually
indented bays and little coves for hiding
- Not too
much development (houses and other human disturbances) along the shoreline
sent us the following four topographic maps of lakes in Wisconsin where
he and Dr. Walter Piper study loons. The maps are all drawn to the same
scale, so you can tell which lakes are bigger and which are smaller. The
tiny black squares represent human buildings (usually houses or cabins).
You can't tell from a map how many fish are in it, but you should be able
to see some information that will indicate that some lakes are better
for loons than others. Answer the following questions:
- If you
were very stressed to see humans, which would be the worst lake for
you? The best? Give some reasons for your choices.
lake has the most hidden coves for fishing in privacy? Which has the
lake has the most islands?
circle of topographic lines shows changes in elevation or depth. Which
lake appears to be the deepest?
- If you
were a hungry young loon without your own territory and there were already
loons on all four lakes, which would be the easiest to sneak into for
a quick fishing expedition without resident loons noticing?
If you were
a loon flying over these lakes, which one would look like the best choice
for your territory? List the features it has that would probably make
it a good nesting site. Which lake do you think is least likely to have
loons nesting? Why?
This! Journaling Questions
of these lakes look most appealing for you as a human? If you lived
on a lake, would you prefer one that had other humans nearby, or one
that did not?
- Make up
a story about how one of these lakes got its name.
you're a loon spending your first night on your brand new territory
on Wind Pudding Lake. What adventures might you have? Write a story
about your night.