The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Loons. Photo by Kittie Wilson.

“Successes of Loons in New Hampshire”

When: Wednesday, Jan. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Nashua
Cost: Free (no registration required)

Lively loons
Loon Preservation Committee gives talk in Nashua

By Matt Ingersoll

 Nearly 300 pairs of loons were recorded across New Hampshire in 2016 — that’s more than three times as many as there were just 40 years ago but is still only about halfway to where they should be historically to thrive, according to Loon Preservation Committee Executive Director Harry Vogel.

At an informative talk at the Nashua Public Library on Wednesday, Jan. 18, you can learn about ways to help increase the population numbers of loons in the Granite State. Vogel will be leading “Successes of Loons in New Hampshire,” which will begin at 7 p.m., following a brief business meeting by the Nashaway Chapter of the New Hampshire Audubon.
“The presentation is going to essentially have three parts to it,” he said. “The first thing I want to do is just talk about loons in general and to instill an appreciation for them to people. … Then I want to get into talking about all of the challenges facing loons in New Hampshire, and then from there that will lead into a discussion about the committee and the reasons why it was created. … I will also be talking about the general recreational use of our lakes, and the challenges we face in restoring loon populations.”
Vogel said the very reason why the committee was founded was that loons were becoming less and less common on lakes. It initially began as a self-funded project of New Hampshire Audubon but has since grown into an independent research organization that’s based in Moultonborough.
“Our goal is to teach people about loons and their needs,” he said, “but the same work that we’re doing also helps other wildlife, so we also work to promote environmental ethics as well.”
Some of these things include the proper use of fishing equipment when out on a lake, Vogel said.
“It’s important not to use lead fishing sinkers or lead-headed jigs … because you’re putting loons and other wildlife at risk,” he said. “These are actually responsible for more loon deaths by far than any other single cause.”
But an even easier thing to do is to just simply give the loons a little space in the wild.
“If you want to get close to loons, do it with a big pair of binoculars,” Vogel said. “If you approach a loon on a nest with young chicks, what they do is stop doing what they need to be doing and focus all of their attention on you … and it may abandon its chicks.”
The Loon Preservation Committee always welcomes volunteers and relies on them to help keep track of loon sightings across the state. Areas in particular that recently have enjoyed thriving loon populations include Massabesic Lake, Bow Lake, Mendums Pond and other lakes along the southern tier of New Hampshire.
“[Volunteering] can be as simple as watching a lake near you and reporting what you see,” Vogel said. “We survey more than 325 lakes throughout New Hampshire and volunteers help us keep tabs on the population.”
But Vogel added that loons this time of year are more likely to be found in the Atlantic Ocean, where the water is not completely covered in ice.
“They migrate east and sometimes north in the wintertime, believe it or not,” he said. “It’s not warmth that they are after, just open water. … As soon as the lakes are open, they will be coming back.”
Around here, Vogel said, that tends to be about early to mid-April. Loons are also natives of Alaska, several midwestern states, and other northern ends of the Northeast, including upstate New York, Vermont and Maine.
“Despite all of the challenges, we’ve been able to more than triple the population over time,” he said. “We’re only about halfway to getting back to the historical levels of loons that New Hampshire’s lakes should be, though, so there’s still work to be done.”

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