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About the
Montana Loon Society
THE MONTANA LOON SOCIETY: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

National concern for common loons began in the 1970’s following increased awareness about the effect of DDT on water birds.

Early loon research helped define nesting and nursery habitat requirements, clutch and brood sizes, pair bond establishment, and general dates of spring arrival, nest initiation, and hatch.

Between 1980-1986, Montana researchers and volunteers defined the breeding range and breeding-lake characteristics of loons. In 1986, the Montana Loon Society established the first systematic breeding survey or "Loon Day".

Results from 1995-2005 show that Montana supports a total of 180-220 common loons, including an average of 45 chicks each summer.

Montana Loon Society Membership Brochure.

Click to download
a printable PDF version.
Results from July Loon Day Survey
R 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
e
Adults
162 157 189 189 154 183 167 146 193 207 181
s
Lakes
w/ Adults
84 75 72 88 68 73 74 78 89 82 88
u
Chicks
35 38 43 38 44 52 36 54 36 35 36
l
Total
Population
197 195 218 227 198 235 203 200 229 242 217
t
Chick/Adult
Ratio
0.22 0.24 0.25 0.20 0.29 0.28 0.22 0.37 0.19 0.17 0.19
s
Between 1986 and 1992, researchers determined that human disturbances during the nesting season had a detrimental effect on breeding loons.

MLS soon implemented a management program that relied on nest area closures using floating signs and public education at high use areas.
Later, banding efforts determined that loons nesting in Montana were wintering on the Pacific Coast and that blood-mercury levels in captured birds were minimal. The increase of human recreational and development activities on loon breeding lakes soon outpaced voluntary public education efforts. In response, recent management efforts include establishing a second loon survey in May, creating a statewide, standardized database, and funding Loon Ranger positions.

In 2001, Montana produced the highest number of loon chicks since 1981. Future statewide priorities will focus on completing the statewide database, procuring secure funding for the Loon Ranger program, and establishing a common loon population and contaminant/mortality research program.

Would you like to learn more about the Montana Loon Society? Click here for our Montana Loon Society Newsletter.
Loon Rangers Justin Paugh, left, and Lynn Kelly
Loon Ranger Tim Dykstra