Loons Returning North Ahead of Schedule

Thanks to an unseasonably warm spring in the Upper Midwest, common loons are returning to nesting areas some three weeks ahead of schedule, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently noted.

The DNR’s media release on the topic is HEREMinnesota Public Radio followed up with an interview of Carrol Henderson, supervisor of the DNR’s non-game wildlife program, HERE.

Scientists are tracking via radio and satellite telemetry devices the migration behaviors of 29 loons that breed in Minnesota. At least six of those birds had returned to Minnesota by April 11.

“This is a very exciting time in science exploration,” Henderson said in the media release. “We have been able to learn more about our fabulous state bird than we have ever known before.”

The tracking told scientists, for example, Minnesota loons migrating south in the fall stage on Lake Michigan for up to two weeks before flying to the Gulf of Mexico.

The loons being tracked in the study can be followed online via THIS U.S. Geological Survey web site.

Scientists are also studying the affect of the Gulf oil spill on loons that nest in Minnesota.  That multi-year study is still ongoing.


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