Bird Observer: The Birding Journal for New England

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

June 2016

Vol. 44, No. 3

Restore the Call: A Bold Initiative to Aid Loon Recovery

Lee Attix and Michelle Kneeland

At dawn on August 20, 2015, I held chick number one anxiously, and I’m sure my breath as well, before wading out into the lake to set him free, marking an amazing moment in history. I don’t remember if the sunrise in the east was licking my face, or if it was pouring rain. I just remember letting go, a quickened pulse, and a final glance from this historic loon chick. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, and I hope he is, too.— Lee Attix

Common Loons (Gavia immer) and those who look after their well being in the United States have reason to celebrate. There is a bold new initiative underway to help restore the breeding loon population to designated areas of their former range across the country. It is the single largest conservation project undertaken to aid loons and their recovery, and it is happening in the morning shadow of Cape Cod.

This article will discuss a groundbreaking component of the larger project, which is the translocation and captive rearing (hacking) of loon chicks, with a focus on the work being conducted in New England, particularly Massachusetts. The Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), a wildlife conservation organization based in Portland, Maine, is spearheading the Restore the Call initiative in collaboration with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife). The project is funded exclusively by the Ricketts Conservation Foundation.

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