Loons return to Balch after ice-out, and spend about 1 month establishing their territories and bonding with their mate. Courtship display includes dipping their bills and swimming around each other in circles.
Loons buid their nests of dead vegetation and mud right on the shoreline, away from wind, waves, people, and predators. They often nest on small islands where there are fewer predators and people. Parents take turns sitting on the eggs.
After about 27 days, loon eggs hatch and the loon family moves to a nearby "nursery" area. The parents spend much of their time catching small fish for hungry chicks. Chicks ride on parents' backs to stay warm and safe from predators.
Most chicks can now feed themselves and fly. Their parents leave them to congregate in large groups, or "rafts". Groups of chicks will gather together later in the fall in "rafts" of their own. Adult loons may be molting into their dull gray and white winter plumage.
Loons spend the winter resting and feeding along the coast. Juvenile loons will wait about 7 years before they return to fresh water to breed.
Loon Preservation Committee
BLIMP | PO Box 0494 | E. Wakefield, NH 03830