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Loon chick numbers found to rise in Maine

Adult count falls in annual survey

Email|Print| Text size + By Francis X. Quinn
Associated Press / January 8, 2008

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Audubon says that its annual count recorded the highest number of loon chicks since the survey started in 1983, but that the number of adult loons was down again.

Results from the chick tally contrasted sharply with 2006, when the count found the lowest number of chicks on record, the organization said yesterday.

"The results were a pleasant surprise," Maine Audubon biologist Susan Gallo, who coordinates the count, said in a written statement. "It was great to see the numbers of young bounce back."

The count of adult loons was down for the second consecutive year, a 6 percent decline from a year earlier, while chick numbers jumped significantly, the organization said.

Maine Audubon biologists estimated southern Maine's loon population at 2,432 adults and 422 chicks.

The group also coordinates a loon productivity survey in which volunteers monitored 35 loon pairs on 22 lakes through the summer. The organization said that a larger sample size would be needed to yield more conclusive findings, but that results in 2007 showed a higher productivity rate than what is thought to be the Northeast average.

"Maine has the largest loon population in New England, but we know very little about how many chicks survive each year," Gallo said. "We know a little bit for small regions or individual lakes, but no comprehensive statewide productivity estimates have ever been made. In the coming years we hope our survey will shed some light as to how well chicks fare in Maine."

Maine Audubon suggested that weather was more favorable for nesting loons in 2007.

Nesting loons on large lakes might also have benefited from lower numbers of nonbreeding adult loons who can threaten them, the organization said.

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