By Milt Weinstein
By the time you read this column, a pair of loons has probably settled on Eastman Lake. This could be the fourth year in a row that two chicks will have fledged from Eastman Lake — for the first time in recorded Eastman history! Fortunately for the parents, and unlike humans, they only have to care for two at a time. The offspring from 2011 will probably spend this summer independently off the shore of New England or Long Island, while the “chicks” of 2009 may be checking out lakes somewhere in the Northeast to begin their searches for mates.
Typically, loons begin to spend summers on lakes in their third year, but they don’t start breeding until they are five years or older. A frequently asked question is whether loons mate for life. The evidence isn’t really known, although there are some pairs that stay together a long time – seven years or more. Committed pairs sometimes break up because of nest failure. A couple of summers ago on Squam Lake, a virtual soap opera occurred in which a “married” female successfully lured an attached male from his mate and settled with him on the nest he and his former mate had occupied. (This soap opera was chronicled in the November 2010 e-newsletter of the Loon Preservation Committee.)
For more loon drama, and for information on loons and upcoming events, sign up for LPC’s e-newsletter by sending an email to Susie Burbidge at volunteers at loon.org. For information about the LPC and how to join or contribute, please visit www.loon.org.