|Survey Year||Number of Chicks||Total Loon Count|
The Annual Loon Count on Lake Vermilion
Counting Loons for 30 Years !
Lake Vermilion has always been known for its large population of loons. To lake residents and frequent visitors, the loon has been something special. One never tires of the haunting cries in the early morning or late evening hours, the sight of a loon cruising the open waters of the lake with his head below water looking for a meal, or the special scene of a loon chick --- or maybe two --- riding on a parent's back to keep warm.
In the early 1980s, news of large loon die-offs off the coast of Florida had the Club worried. They could have been "our" loons. So in 1983 the Sportsmen's Club began keeping count of the loons on Lake Vermilion every summer.
The task was quite large: thousands of acres of water, many bays and islands, and a bird that wouldn't sit still long enough to be counted only once. But if enough volunteers could be on the water on the same day, at the same time, an accurate count could be taken. Today, the Lake Vermilion Loon Count is the longest running, single lake count of common loons anywhere in the United States.
For Info on the Loon Count Process or to Volunteer
To learn more about the process of counting loons on Lake Vermilion, including a map of the territories, click here.
Thanks to the volunteers who currently traverse their territories so carefully each July. Since the beginning, 139 volunteers have participated. Of those, 61 have earned their 5-year patch. Quite a few have been involved for 25 years!
If you'd like to join this team, please contact west-end coordinator Claire Zwieg [contact info] or east-end coordinator Ellen Hintz [contact info]. Alternate counters are often needed. And a territory opens up periodically.
Loon Survey Report for 2012
On Monday, July 9th, a beautiful summer morning beckoned seventy loon counters as they motored out to count loons. These volunteers sighted 55 pairs, 70 singles and 27 chicks over 22 lake territories for a total of 207 loons. 135 were found on the east end of the lake and 72 on the west end. The results for the last three years are as follows: 2010 – 221, 2011 – 202, and 2012 – 207. We saw a slight increase with this season’s count over last year.
Reports of injured loons have been noted this summer. Loon awareness and responsible watercraft use will help reduce the conflicts that can occur between boaters and loons. Since loons have only one or two chicks per year, every chick counts. The survival of loons depends on loons staying here until they are strong enough to fly south in late October – November. Admire these magnificent birds from a distance. Loons need their space.