Lee Attix, Loon Conservation Associates (LCA), presented the LSLA Board of Directors a summary report of the efforts and results of this pilot year program.
The LS Loon Monitoring program, a study of common loons in Maine using citizen science to develop and implement sustainable conservation actions, saw a successful first year with volunteer “Rangers” engaged and active throughout the lake. Lee had conducted classroom and field training for the Rangers and was exceptionally pleased with their dedication and ability to provide positive identification of many of Little Sebago’s banded loons. Lee said, “Little Sebago Rangers ROCK and have set a high bar for other lake groups programs!”. He was most pleased that the Rangers were able to spot our “high interest” loon, a female originally banded in the Horse Island territory in 1997. She was with chick in 1997 and successfully raised a chick here in 2018, making her one of the oldest known breeding females at least 26-28 years old (mating typically begins between 5 th and 7 th seasons). We are hoping to find her back on the lake in 2020.
Monitoring survey results enabled Lee to tabulate population and productivity. LS had 10 territorial pairs in 2019 (1 more than previously known). Nine of those pair nested, hatching 7 chicks. Unfortunately, only 4 chicks fledged (reached 6 weeks of age), leaving our productivity at .40. below the .48 established threshold for sustainability. However, loon productivity is subject to significant year-to- year fluctuations, and one year is not indicative of long-term trends. Continuing our monitoring program will allow for better evaluation of the health and sustainability of the population.
Funding for this project was generously supported by Maine Community Foundation’s Cumberland County Environmental Fund. It is hoped that Lee will be on board one more year (pending securing funding) to train additional Rangers and offer more extensive training to 2019 Rangers. He then will remain available to consult with LSLA as needed.
Many thanks go out to Lee and LCA for their guidance with the LS Loon Monitoring Program and for their dedication to the protection and welfare of loons. And many thanks to our Rangers for their time and effort – without them this program would not have happened.
Loon Monitoring Program chairperson.