NH boaters warned to watch out for loons
A loon in a raft nest put on Lake Winnipesaukee last year by Loon Preservation Committee volunteers and staff. (COURTESY PHOTO)
The peak of the hatching period of loon chicks usually occurs around the Fourth of July, at the same time that the lakes are busy with holiday boaters, said Harry Vogel, senior biologist and executive director of the committee.
"It's bad timing," Vogel said. "It's nesting season, and one of the biggest challenges loons face is the heavy number of lake users."
Last year, committee biologists recorded 188 pairs of nesting loons on New Hampshire lakes. They also recorded 99 "failed" nests, Vogel said. Loon nests fail because of human disturbance, predation or water-level changes.
"The first one is too many," he said.
Loon nests are generally made of matted grasses and twigs, built near the water level along shorelines. They like to nest near islands or in coves on shorelines.
• Boaters (and shore walkers) should stay back at least 150 feet from a nesting loon, further back if the loon shows any signs of distress, such as craning its neck low over a nest. Loons may even appear to be injured or dead while in this head-down position, but it is simply a response to the close approach of people, according to the committee.
Loons are a threatened species in New Hampshire and are protected by state and federal laws from hunting or harassment, including flushing loons from nests. Anyone observing harassment of loons can contact New Hampshire Fish and Game Department at 271-3361 or the Marine Patrol at 293-2037.
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