Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Haunting Call of the Loon - Fading?

In 1981, the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey was formed to monitor the population of breeding loons in lakes across Canada. The Common Loon depends on Canadian lakes for breeding, as their breeding range includes Canada (the greatest numbers), Greenland, and Iceland. As an indicator of pollution and acid rain, Loon numbers on many of Ontario's lakes can predict water quality. Effects of acid rain on the Common Loon can be read at this site:

With the aid of volunteers, the study finds that loons are indeed susceptible to acid rain as lakes experiencing damaging effects also see a decline in loon nests. In fact, there was a divergence recorded between lakes with a low pH and those with higher alkaline levels, which saw stable reproductive success. The highest decline was discovered between 1981 and 1997. It should be noted that several other species are at risk as well from other waterfowl to amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects, and mammals, and plants.

Therefore, the Loon Survey could not have come at a better time to not only protect a symbolic species for Canada, but also to observe any trends that can be attributed to environmental concerns. Since its inauguration, numbers have been relatively stable. However, the effort continues and new information is always needed to continue to protect the Common Loon as well as the health of Canadian lakes.

Other links relating acid rain to waterfowl species are listed below:

The following site provides links of a variety of articles concerning Loons including jet ski disturbance, acid rain, and other environmental effects:

Research in Algonquin Provincial Park:

To volunteer with the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey, visit their website:

For anyone who has heard the call of a loon on a foggy northern lake, or seen their stunning features through a scope or set of binoculars, you know how important this species is to our heritage. The goal should be continued support for the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey and further efforts to improve air and water quality.

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