Friday, September 9, 2011 12:52am

65 degrees  Clear  Calm
Where are our loons?
The few times I have been able to check the last week-and-a-half with the binoculars or the telescope, I have not seen them.  I am not concerned about their safety or anything.  I am just wondering where they are.
Obviously they have moved on to another lake.  Or possibly even started their migration.  It is possible that I have just missed spotting them and have looked at the wrong time.  But they have probably begun moving around.
This is the time of year that loons start to gather in large groups called rafts in preparation for their migration south.
Here in Minnesota, there is a large lake in the central part of the state called Mille Lacs Lake that is a favorite staging ground for loons preparing to fly south for the winter.  Five hundred or more loons have been counted on Mille Lacs at one time in prior years.    Other large lakes serve the same purpose.
But one of the new pieces of information from the migration studies done last year is how important Lake Michigan is to the migration of Upper Midwest and Central Canadian loons.
This afternoon I got an email from Kevin Kenow of the US Geological Service officially announcing the start of tracking of loons that have had satellite transmitters surgically implanted earlier this summer [although the website actually went live a couple days ago].  There are a total of 20 loons in this new study....13 in Minnesota, 4 in Wisconsin and 3 in Michigan.  You can track the new group of loons at
A few of the loons have already started their movement but they are still in their general home range.  It will be interesting to see if all of these loons also go to Lake Michigan before they finally head south to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Coast.  Loons from New England and Eastern Canada will head to the upper Atlantic Coast.
You can read the official USGS news release at
I have asked Kevin about last year's loons but I have not heard anything from him yet.  When we did them last year, there was hope that the battery packs in the transmitters might last long enough to give us data on their migration south this fall.  Since none of the loons from last year are listed on the map, I assume that the batteries did not last long enough for this fall's migration.  If and when I hear something from Kevin, I will let you know.
Our beautiful northern lakes are becoming more silent.
Gone are the middle of the night concerts of loon tremolos and yodels and wails.  Once again we begin to realize how blessed and privileged we are to have them with us for those precious months.  And how they enrich our lives with their beauty.
There is a sense of loss and sadness about that.  Soon we will know that our loons are gone for the winter.  Realizing that we will not hear their beautiful calls all winter.  A quietness and stillness will settle over the great northern forests and lakes.  And it will not be until the ice goes out next spring that we will see them again.  And then the excitement of a new cycle starts all over again.
I keep hoping that we might yet see our loons and 'chicks' [they hardly qualify as chicks anymore] make at least one more stop back on the lake to say 'goodbye' before they begin their long journey.
But for now, we can only wonder....where are our loons?
Questions or Comments?