Loon Nesting Platforms at Highland Lake

Post date: May 16, 2020 5:34:49 PM

Last spring, a long time resident of Highland Lake approached me and asked “Why don’t we have loon nesting platforms on Highland Lake? “ I had no idea what she was talking about. She invited me to meet Lucas Savoy, Waterfowl Program / Loon Program Director at the Biodiversity Research Institute in Portland. While I certainly was one of those for whom the most exciting treats around Highland Lake is listening to the loons, I knew nothing about the loons nesting habits. I decided that I would open this opportunity to the HLA Board and Tim Hawkins volunteered to further pursue the idea of locating a loon nesting platform (or two) in the South Basin of Highland Lake. We are fortunate to have loons every summer, on Highland Lake; however, it’s not clear that our loons are raising chicks very successfully. Human activity and nest predation can interfere with loon breeding. Scientists have learned that the success of loons nesting with these types of platforms had a 50% higher likelihood of survival of the young. Given that Highland Lake is located near the southern limit of the loons breeding range, global warming may make it even harder for them to successfully raise chicks in the future.

Based on Tim’s recommendation, in April, the HLA Board of Directors decided to set aside the funding necessary to build and install two nesting rafts in the southern part of the lake.

A word of caution to all lake residents: Adult loons can learn to tolerate humans, and share the lake with us. However, if you see a loon on a nest, or swimming with small chicks, please give them a wide berth. Our hope is to keep the loons happy and healthy on Highland Lake for generations to come!”

Did you know? Loons lay their eggs between May 15 and June 15 and the eggs hatch about a month later. Both parents incubate the eggs, which hatch in about 28 to 30 days. The chicks leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching. At this point, they can swim but usually spend some time riding on their parents' backs during the first couple of weeks. This may help the chicks keep warm and protect them from predators.