As we wrap up the field season on the Squam Lakes, I wanted to send you all a quick update on the loons. Happily, the two chicks on Squam Lake and the one chick from Little Squam Lake all survived throughout the Fall and seem to be thriving! Many of the adults have left the Lakes to spend the winter off the coast of New England, but at least one of the parents still remains with each of the chicks. The chicks, of course, are taking advantage of this and continuing to beg for food from their parents, even though they are capable of feeding themselves at this point. Their free meals won't last much longer, however, as the parents will soon head for the ocean too. The chicks will remain on the Lakes for approximately one more month, continuing to feed and strengthen their flight muscles for their own trips to the coast.
Many of the free meals I have seen the chicks receiving in recent months have been crayfish, which both adult loons and chicks feed on in addition to fish. I, too, have been busy this Fall collecting crayfish, as well as water samples from Squam Lake. As part of the Loon Preservation Committee's Squam Lake Loon Initiative, we will be testing these samples for contaminants to better understand the distribution of contaminants around the lake and their possible impacts on loons.
Thank you for your interest in the loons of the Squam Lakes! I invite you to visit our updated webpage on the threat of lead fishing tackle to loons (http://www.loon.org/ingested-lead-tackle.php). Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions about loons or the Squam Lake Loon Initiative, LPC's effort to restore a healthy population of loons to Squam Lake (http://www.loon.org/squam-lake-study.php).
I wish you all a very Happy Autumn and look forward to being in touch with you when our loons return next spring!