Some frequently asked questions – and answers – about the Common Loon and their life cycle:
Do loons mate for life?
Loons are believed to mate for life, but more research is needed in this area.
Do loons have a courtship ritual?
Yes. Courtship consists mainly of head dipping and shallow dives. In spring, loons are frequently observed chasing each other across the surface of a lake. This is primarily territorial behavior, not courtship ritual.
What does a loon nest look like?
The nest consists of reeds, sticks, grasses and muddy vegetation from the bottom of lakes. This material is loosely formed in the shape of a mound, roughly 1.5 feet in diameter, with a slight hollow in the middle. Both the male and female participate in nest building which is completed by mid-May.
Where do loons construct their nests?
Because of their difficulty moving about the land, loons build nests within a few inches of water. When a nesting loon is disturbed, it slips off the nest and submerges to keep the location of its nest unknown.
How many eggs does a female lay?
Soon after construction of the nest, the female lays two eggs.
What size and color are loon eggs?
Loon eggs are roughly 3 1/2″ by 2 1/4″ in size with a thick shell and are olive green color speckled with brown spots.
How long do loons live?
The Common Loon may live twenty years or more.
How many loons are there in Wisconsin?
1995 statistics by Wisconsin’s LoonWatch Program estimated the loon population of Wisconsin to be about 3,017 loons! [Update: In 2010, LoonWatch estimated the adult loon populations at approximately 4,000 and chick population at approximately 600].
[Image: Courtesy of Mike Crowley; available for sale at his website Life in the Northwoods]