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Approximately 12,000 common loons inhabit Minnesota during the summer months. Environmental and state organizations provide opportunities for the public to learn about and monitor these birds. Loons are indicators of good water quality, as they are sensitive to disturbance and lakeshore development, requiring clean, clear water for nesting and feeding. Loon chicks typically appear mid to late June, with nests usually located in protected shoreline spots.

Minnesota’s state bird, the common loon, is better adapted to water than land. Its streamlined body enables strong underwater swimming, allowing it to stay submerged for up to five minutes. Their food sources include fish, frogs, leeches, crayfish, and insects. Minnesota hosts more loons than any other state except Alaska. In September, adult loons migrate to their winter grounds along the Atlantic coast, while juveniles migrate a month later.

Loon calls include the wail, tremolo, yodel, and hoot. Climate change threatens their summer habitat by 2080. Boaters can help by giving loons plenty of space and using non-lead tackle to reduce the risk of injury to the birds.

Five ways to help loons:

  1. Give loons space: Maintain a safe distance from loons and their nests to avoid disturbing them.
  2. Use non-Lead tackle: Switch to non-lead fishing tackle to prevent lead poisoning in loons.
  3. Dispose of fishing lines properly: Properly discard fishing lines to prevent loons from getting entangled.
  4. Protect shoreline habitats: Avoid developing or disturbing natural shorelines to preserve loon nesting areas.
  5. Participate in monitoring programs: Join local organizations in monitoring loon populations and contributing to conservation efforts.

Volunteer today for a better tomorrow for the loons and everyone!