Young loon chicks often ride on their parentsí back when they get too tired to keep up.
The call of the common loon resonating across a northern Wisconsin lake has been described in many ways: captivating, melancholy and haunting, to name a few. Their sounds pierce the silence of a calm evening, capturing the attention of anyone close enough to hear their charm. Loons have a range of five different calls they use to communicate with others, but what are they trying to say?
"It's a mix of things," says Mike Meyer, a research scientist with the Department of Natural Resources. "Most loon calls are to keep tabs on their family and to alert them of danger. Other calls announce the location of territorial boundaries."
Meyer has worked with Wisconsin's resident loons for more than 20 years and works on a long–term project to track their migrations and monitor their health.
The common loon is native to Wisconsin and resides in the northern third of the state during the summer. But starting in fall and leading into winter, loons migrate south to the Gulf of Mexico or head east to the Atlantic Ocean. Come spring, loons can be seen in the southern part of Wisconsin as they make their way north, by stopping to rest on any unfrozen body of water.
Eric Verbeten is a communication specialist with DNR's Office of Communications. He covers DNR science and research.
Special thanks to LoonWatch, Ashland College and Jay Meeger for the audio clips