Maine Loon Count
Early in the morning of the third Saturday of July each year, over 1,000 volunteers venture onto lakes and ponds across the state to count loons. The observations recorded by the citizen scientist volunteers provide an excellent “snapshot” of Maine’s loon population. Following the 2018 count, Maine Audubon estimated a population of 3,269 adult Common Loons and 406 chicks for the southern half of Maine.
The total number of adults was “steady” from 2015-2017, but then jumped in 2018 to the second-highest estimate ever recorded. The number of chicks saw a bump in 2016 from 2015, followed by similar numbers in 2017 and 2018. The 2018 estimate for chicks is the fifth-highest ever recorded. Anytime more chicks are produced, there is the potential to see more adults in six or seven years (the time it takes to reach mature breeding age).
The increase in the number of adults was driven largely by higher numbers on smaller lakes — specifically those lakes between 51 and 500 acres (Keoka is 460 acres). Numbers from lakes under 51 acres were flat, probably already at capacity with one pair per lake. But lakes in the 51-100, 101-200, and 201-500 acre categories all saw increases in the number of adults counted.