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Common Loon Migration: Challenges Faced Throughout the Annual Cycle

February 21, 2018, 6:30 pm8:30 pm

Kevin Kenow with loon habitat

While common loon breeding populations in the Upper Midwest are generally stable, there is recent concern over the impacts that avian botulism on the Great Lakes and contaminant exposure on wintering areas may have on these populations.

Satellite telemetry and archival geolocator tags were used to determine the migration patterns and wintering locations of common loons that breed in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Usually, the radiomarked or geotagged adult birds traveled from breeding lakes, often via larger staging lakes, to the Great Lakes (primarily Lake Michigan), and then on to wintering areas in impoundments in the southern US, the southern Atlantic Coast, or the Gulf of Mexico.

Movement data from the radiomarked loons is served on a website established to provide project information to partners and the public. The geolocator tags also provide a record of foraging patterns and depth of foraging throughout the year. This work provides essential information on the migration patterns, staging areas, and wintering sites of common loons that is required by resource managers for development and implementation of common loon conservation strategies.

Kevin Kenow is a research wildlife biologist with the US Geological Survey and has been stationed at the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, for the past thirty-one years. His research has focused on issues related to conserving migratory birds and their habitats throughout the Great Lakes region and contributing to the development of regional and national common loon conservation strategies. Kevin has recently been using some unique technology to look at migration and foraging patterns of common loons breeding in the Upper Midwest, along with related issue of avian botulism in the Great Lakes.

Join us for a series of three lectures to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of LoonWatch. All lectures will take place at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center at 6:30 pm.

March 28: Preserving Loons for Future Generations: Over 25 Years of Common Loon Research in Wisconsin

May 2: Using Trail Cameras to Monitor Loon Nests


February 21, 2018
6:30 pm–8:30 pm


Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center
29270 Co Hwy G
Ashland, WI United States
(715) 685-9983