Loons prefer to build their nests in quiet coves, inlets, and on small islands. They are easily distracted during the breeding season and too much human activity may cause them to abandon their nest. Islands and inlets provide a little more protection.
The nests are always constructed near the shore line since loons have difficulty walking on land. Changing water levels can flood the nests and can leave the nests vulnerable.
Floating Raft Nests
Floating nests rafts are a solution to this problem. They rise and fall with the water levels so loons can cope more easily. They also provide an alternative since shore line development or recreational use of lakes has limited nesting locations. Floating nests also help protect loon nests from raccoons and other predators.
The dome covering on the rafts also protects the nest from eagles and other predators from the sky.
Loon rafts can be beneficial, but they are not a replacement for natural nesting sites. They are only used in areas where nesting sites have been lost and where successive nests have been unsuccessful. They can do more harm than good if used in areas where loon can nest successfully on their own.
Nest Building typically begins between the end Of May and late June, in New Hampshire. Nests are often built on floating bogs, logs that have fallen at the waters edge, or on rocks protruding from the water.
Both the male and female loon help to build the nest. The nest is made of twigs, grasses, reeds and other vegetation from the water.
Both parents take turns incubating and turning the eggs too.
Watch the video below from the Loon Preservation Committee’s cam to see this unfold.
The incubation period is between 26-30 days. One or two eggs are laid and both parents share in the incubation duties equally. The eggs are laid 1-3 days apart. The chicks will hatch within 12 to 24 hours of each other.
If the eggs do not survive, loons may re-nest up to 3 times in the same year. In the event of nest failure, whether an individual pair will re-nest and the number of attempts varies.
Loons usually mate for life, and they often use the same nesting site over again year after year.
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In 1977, when I was a college student I discovered leather as a medium and fell in love. My summers were spent on Lake Winnipesaukee, here in NH, and that is where I first encountered loons.
Loons soon became the focal point of much of my work. I set out to create functional, and durable leather products with original loon scenes so Loon enthusiasts could enjoy them year round. My hope is that my handmade leather goods will become lifelong treasures and forever keepsakes.