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Throughout 30 plus years of common loon (Gavia immer) studies in northern Wisconsin researchers have observed nest failures due to a number of causes. Several attempts to identify and quantify causes of nest failures has provided some insights but also raised questions. With current advances in remote camera technology it appeared to us that we could clarify some of these unknowns. Using small digital infrared cameras at active loon nests we were able to obtain observations from 21 nest attempts on the Turtle Flambeau Scenic Waters Area in 2012. Mammalian predators, as expected, contributed to nest failures, however, water level fluctuations may be as important to loon nest success. We discuss the variables that affected common loon nest success. As previously reported, loons were tenacious at renesting after nest failures, insuring their population maintains itself. Also, we learned camera placement and monitoring techniques that will make this kind of research more successful.

Jeff Marshall Wilson is a retired WDNR wildlife technician living in Mercer, WI. He has conducted field inventories and research on wildlife during his 38 year career. His particular expertise includes ecology and management of furbearers, bald eagle and osprey, as well as common loons. He has worked closely with WDNR Science Services and USGS researchers on common loon research. Wilson attended Northland College, majoring in Environmental Studies.

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.

February 21: Common Loon Migration: Challenges Faced Throughout the Annual Cycle

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


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



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