Good With Numbers? Minnesota’s Loons Could Use Your Help
Minnesota may be the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but just how many loons are there on those lakes?
That's the question the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is trying to answer. And to come up with a reasonable estimate, they need YOUR help... to take part in the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program.
Unlike your vehicle, which you're required to register each year and pay for those ever-more-expensive license tabs, there's no such thing for any of the wildlife living here in the North Star State.
And even though the common loon is Minnesota's official state bird, trying to get an estimate on just HOW many loons currently live on or around any of our state's more than 11,842 lakes is a task that needs several volunteers.
Which is where the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program comes in. According to the DNR, it's a long-term project of the Nongame Wildlife Program, where hundreds of volunteers have collected information about common loon numbers on more than 600 lakes across the northern half of the Gopher State.
Here's how it works:
Volunteers visit each lake one morning during a 10-day period in the summer and count the number of adult and juvenile loons. The observations are shared with the DNR. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, we have over 20 years of data on more than 600 lakes. This long-term data gives us the ability to detect changes in the adult population and reproductive success of the state's common loons and to anticipate any problems that could jeopardize the future of our state bird.
And the DNR is looking to take part in the 2023 Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program. Here are more specifics about this year's program:
- 10 days from the last week of June through the first week of July.
- Surveys are done one morning between 5 a.m. and noon during the monitoring period.
- Equipment needed includes binoculars or a spotting scope
- Some lakes require a boat or canoe to survey
- A bird identification guidebook is optional
The DNR says the survey time depends on lake size. A small lake (less than 150 acres) takes between 30 to 60 minutes, while medium lakes (between 150 to 400 acres) can take between 30 minutes to 2 hours, and a large lake (greater than 400 acres) can take between 2 to 4 hours to complete.
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