Loon: The Majestic Bird

Love Our Loons, From a Distance Please

We are proud of our Loon heritage at Elk Lake, Lake Skegemog and the Torch River. The Common Loon is incorporated into ESLA’s logo. The early morning and early evening voices of loons are emblematic music for our waters. ESLA has a history of helping protect and create an environment to establish a prolific loon population in northern Michigan. A link at the end of this article shows what was being done 10-15 years ago.

In recent years, ESLA has erected signs like the one below at every boat launch and park on Elk Lake, Lake Skegemog and the Torch River and Rapid River.

For many years, ESLA riparians have supplied loon platforms on our waters, like the one shown above. Since at least 2020, we have had 4 nesting platforms on our waters. Most recent years, the loon pair has successfully hatched chicks. Some years, the platform has been damaged by wind. Other years, a rogue loon chases a mother from her nest. Other times, people in boats, kayaks, or jet skis harass the loons, until they leave.

Seeing a loon chick successfully hatched after the loon pair has spent about 28 days tending to the nest is amazing. The adult loons take turns keeping eggs covered. Rarely do you see the nest without an adult. Once the eggs hatch (typically two chicks, but not always), the loons swim off in the water with the chicks on their backs. They do not get back on the nest with the chicks, but they are protective of the nest and become agitated when people approach.

If loons are harassed, they often abandon the nest. Whether on the nest or in the water, loons are very protective. Many people think the loon is putting on a performance for them with their vocalization, when they are really saying “stay away.” If they detect a threat, the loons will sink low in the water to appear inconspicuous. The loons seem particularly aware of jet skis (maybe the noise or vibration) and get very upset when jet skis are near.

  • If you see a platform with a loon on it or a loon on the water with chicks, give it space — at least 150 feet is recommended
  • If you accidentally flush a loon off from its nest, leave immediately. Loons will abandon the nest if they feel threatened.
  • If a loon swims away from you on the water, do not pursue it.
  • If you see someone harassing a loon, please get a picture of the watercraft’s MC #s and report it to The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Hotline 1-800-292-7800. Wildlife harassment is illegal and subject to fines up to $1000 and/or 90 days in jail.
  • Fishermen should avoid casting towards or near loons. They can become hooked and tangled in your line.
  • Best viewing is with binoculars or a camera.