Loon Preservation Committee Urges Public to Give Nesting Loons Space

Water's edge nests are vulnerable to threats

Press release
A loon in this flattened out position on the nest is feeling stressed and should be given more space. Caption and photo: Loon Preservation Committee

The Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) is reminding the public that from now through mid-to-late July, loons will be nesting throughout the state. Loons nest on lakes and ponds and often build their nests along the shoreline of islands, in marshes, or along the mainland shoreline in protected coves. 

Adapted for life in the water, loons cannot walk on land. As such, they build their nest right at the water’s edge. These nests are vulnerable to boat wakes and to human disturbance. 

“Because they cannot walk well on land, loons are vulnerable when they are on the nest,” said LPC Senior Biologist/Director, Harry Vogel. “If they sense a threat, such as a closely approaching boat, they will flatten themselves low over their nests, with their heads angled toward the water, to try to hide. If the threat persists in the area, they will flush from their nest.” 

If adult loons are flushed from the nest, their eggs may be exposed and vulnerable to predation or temperature changes that can render the eggs inviable.

Those who plan to boat, fish, or hike on or around New Hampshire’s lakes during the loon nesting season are urged to be careful as they move in areas where loons may be nesting. If a loon nest is found, it should be given plenty of space – 150 feet at minimum, and more if the loon shows signs of distress, such as lowering its head over the nest. 

If a member of the public accidentally flushes a loon from the nest, they should leave the area immediately so that the loon can resume incubation. Following New Hampshire’s no-wake laws helps to avoid swamping loon nests or washing their eggs out of the nest.

Those who wish to see a close-up view of nesting loons can do so responsibly by viewing the Loon Preservation Committee’s Live Loon Cam at Loon.org/looncam. The eggs on the nest featured on the Loon Cam are expected to hatch between June 24 and June 27.
The Loon Preservation Committee monitors loons throughout the state as part of its mission to restore and maintain a healthy population of loons in New Hampshire; to monitor the health and productivity of loon populations as sentinels of environmental quality; and to promote a greater understanding of loons and the natural world.