One New Baby Loon Chick on Highland Lake

By Donna Baker-Hartwell

Donna Baker Hartwell provides regular updates on the Loons that live on Highland Lake in East Andover. We have consolidated her reports into one article.


June 28

I am happy to announce the arrival of the Highland Lake baby loon chick! DOB – June 28th (Full Moon) on a rainy day. I took these pictures this evening (29th). Both parents are attending their chick. The chick has spent most of its time hidden under a parent’s wing. I was able to confirm that we have only one chick – after waiting for feeding time. One parent carries the chick- the other fishes for tiny minnows and feeds the chick off the back of the other “floating parent nest”. This chick appears to be big and healthy. This evening, he/she swam for a few minutes alongside the parent. They will most likely spend Saturday near the nesting site (within the buoy lines ) or close to the island. Perhaps, late Saturday or Sunday they will take their chick to the cove by the inlet (between the Agoos and “Five Oaks”) We wish them a safe crossing.

I was able to identify one of the parents as one that was banded in 2010-2011- green band on left leg and blue over silver on right leg. The mate is not banded. (so this is not the original mate.) As soon as the loon family has moved away from the nesting area, I will investigate the nest and see if there is any sign of another egg/chick. I’ll let you know if I find anything.

The buoys will come down as soon as the loons move away from the island and Brad and I have a chance to remove them. The yellow caution lines on the island will be removed as well.
In the coming weeks we all hope that they remain safe. Please take extra care when motor boating and give them a lot of space. It is a true gift that we have a mating pair on our lake.
June 30
Our loon family has moved to the north end of the lake. A parent and the chick were seen this morning about 8 AM in front of the Brennan’s. The other adult was enjoying time to swim and preen a short distance away.

I was able to check the nest and found one abandoned egg. Sarah Cantwell, loon biologist from NH Loon Preservation will be by today to pick this egg up. We probably won’t know why it was not viable. The NHLPC will likely send it to a state lab;  however, “our” egg will get lost among the other non-viable eggs sent there.

Statistics are that 50% of loon eggs laid hatch and 50% of chicks born will survive the first summer. (Pretty challenging odds- compared to other species!)  It’s a “partnership” that we have with our loons in protecting them.

I hope you all can catch a glimpse of our baby loon chick in the next few days/weeks. He/she is going to grow fast! Enjoy! We are blessed.
July 7
It was a beautiful COOL morning on the lake. (Saturday, July 7th at 6:30 AM). Both parents and chick were swimming off the south side of the island near the floating sign. At nine days old, the chick is spending more time in the water than on parent’s back. I caught her/him catching a quick nap while floating. The loon family has been seen all around the lake- spreading joy to everyone. Keep your eyes out for them. The chick will be growing fast! Here are a few photos to enjoy.
July 8

I got an email from one of Loon News recipients expressing concern about jet-ski and water-ski activity which was near the loon family. Loons are protected by state law, and I believe that boaters are suppose to give them 100′ of space. (John Cooley- NHLPC might know for sure) That said- if anyone feels that the loons are being threatened, you can always make a call of concern to the NH Marine Patrol. The number is-  293-2037.

I heard a report of one loon chick on Bradley Lake. And Pleasant Lake has one.

July 16

“Our” loon parents continue to occupy their time feeding their growing chick. They can be seen in all corners of the lake as well as in the middle. It is still crucial that boaters be aware of where they are. At 18 days old, the chick can not dive well enough to protect itself from motors or swim fast enough to get out of the way.

On another note- the 2018 summer newsletter of the Loon Preservation Committee reports that the number of adult loon deaths from ingested lead fishing tackle is at its highest number in the past 5 years. Eight loons were confirmed dead from lead poisoning last year. Even though the sale and the use of lead sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less was outlawed in 2016, people are not always aware of the law.

Adult loons need small pebbles for grit to digest their food- much like chickens, they have gizzards. They can easily mistake a small lead sinker as a pebble and ingest it.  A loon that ingests one lead sinker will die within 2-4 weeks. Anglers can exchange one ounce or more of banned tackle for a $10 gift certificate at either AJ’s Tackle in Meredith or the Tackle Shack in Newbury. This offer is good through Labor Day.

If you wish to read/learn more about loons in New Hampshire, I urge you to become a member of the NH Loon Preservation Committee. You will receive their newsletter which is filled with up to date information about the research and findings of our loon population.

July 21

This morning, from 8-9 AM, the NH Loon Census took place. Volunteers on NH lakes record their loon sightings as well as bald eagles and osprey. There is a form online that each volunteer fills out and sends to the NH Loon Preservation. The sightings will be tallied and the final tally will tell us approximately how many chicks and adults we have on our lakes as well as other sightings.

I observed our loon family at 8:06 AM on the west side of the lake.  I watched as “Mother” loon (has green band on left leg) swam away to southern side of island to fish while “Father” loon stayed with our chick. As you can see from my cell phone photo, our chick as grown considerably. He/she is now 23 days old. Parents leave the chick floating alone for longer periods (4-5 minutes) of time while they are fishing. The family reunited before the hour was up. It was a beautiful calm and sunny morning on the lake.
I also, noted the geese at the public beach alongside a great blue heron. An AMERICAN BITTERN (small heron) landed on the edge of the island-quite close to the nest sight. It shortly flew off. It is a lovely bird with yellow legs and beak.

If you would like to receive email reports on the Loons, contact Donna Baker-Hartwell at