Identifying Leg Bands on Lake Vermilion Loons
USGS Study of Lake Vermilion Loons
Biologists with the US Geological Survey banded eight adult and two juvenile common loons on Lake Vermilion in July 2011. All loons were banded either in Rice Bay or near Pine Island.
Six of the adults were marked with a silver leg band with a archival geolocator tag attached. The geolocator tag records location, temperature, and dive depth. Loons with a geolocator must be recaptured within five years to recover the data the tag has recorded. USGS scientists plan to return to Lake Vermilion during July 2012 to locate previously banded loons.
The three male birds also received a satellite transmitter, so an antenna may be visible.
Please Report Sightings of Banded Loons
To assist the USGS in recovering the geolocator data, please report sightings of banded loons to
USGS Research Wildlife Biologist Kevin Kenow (
firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-781-6278).
|Sat. Code||Date Banded||Where Banded||Age & Gender||Right Leg||Left Leg|
|Jul 2011||E of Pine Island||Adult Unk||Red / Silver||Blue stripe / Green stripe|
|Jul 2011||E of Pine Island||Adult Unk||Green / Silver||Blue stripe only|
|V4||Jul 2011||Rice Bay||Adult M||Red stripe / Silver||Green stripe / Silver with Geotag|
|Jul 2011||Rice Bay||Adult F||Yellow / Silver||Blue stripe / Silver with Geotag|
|V3||Jul 2011||N of Pine Island in Narrows Area||Adult M||Red stripe / Silver||White / Silver with Geotag|
|Jul 2011||N of Pine Island in Narrows Area||Adult F||Green stripe / Silver||Red / Silver with Geotag|
|V1||Jul 2011||N of Pine Island in Canfield Bay Area||Adult M||Yellow stripe / Silver||Green / Silver with Geotag|
|Jul 2011||N of Pine Island in Canfield Bay Area||Adult F||Blue / Silver||Blue / Silver with Geotag|
Guidelines for Observing Loon Leg Bands
Bands are most readily observed when loons preen. Loons will spend about 5 minutes preening (putting oil on their feathers) about every 30-60 minutes if they are comfortable with their surroundings. Once a preening bout ends, the birds will often return to foraging. Following a stressful event (disturbance by people, eagles, boats, intruding loons), loons will preen to reduce stress.
On BOTH legs, note the colors and the order (upper/lower) they are in. All banded loons have at least one silver USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service) band in addition to the color bands. Some loons will have a single METAL/SILVER USFWS band with no color bands (infrequent) or only one color band on a leg. If you believe a loon is unbanded, you must see both legs completely to know with certainty there are no bands.
Examples of New and Faded Loon Leg Bands