Keoka Lake had very successful loon years in 2018 and 2019. Both years saw two loon chicks survive and depart the lake. In 2020 we had two chicks but one was killed by an eagle and the other was killed by a rogue loon. 2021 brought a pair of loons but they were unsuccessful in their attempt to have chicks.
On Keoka Lake, Andy Tabor launches the loon nest each spring complete with our new loon buoys. The males fly north, following the ice melt, often making a flyover to check whether the ice has gone out. They are followed by the females a week or two later and courting begins immediately. Contrary to popular belief, loons do not mate for life but, a pair bond does last about seven years.
Females usually lay two eggs between mid-May and mid-June. Mole Schaefer keeps a watchful eye while both parents incubate the eggs for about 29 days. The chicks can swim right after hatching and the family leaves the nest for a nursery area. After only a week, the chicks can dive short distances and start catching some of their own food. The loon chick mortality rate is high and, on average, only one in four chicks survive the summer. Loons are long-lived and the oldest known nesting loon is over 30 years old.
In late August adult loons gather in flock; parents abandon the young chicks while adults feed together in large rafts and then head to the ocean for the winter. Juveniles also flock together and head for the ocean just before the fall freeze.
To learn more about loons and the annual loon count check out the Maine Loon Project sponsored by the Maine Audubon Society.