Loons on Lake Sunapee

Photo by D. Blohm

Photo by D. Blohm

Three pairs of loons nested on Lake Sunapee in 2019! Two of the pairs nested on rafts (artificial islands) that were deployed in conjunction with the Loon Preservation Committee and the third pair nested on an island in the northern part of the lake. As of mid-August, there are 2 loon chicks on the lake (from different nests) and both are doing well!

Common Loon Behavior

Loons can be very vocal, having four distinct calls, and will often flap their wings as a normal part of their preening and bathing behavior. However, a loon who has raised its forehead feathers, giving it a “squared-off” appearance, usually indicates it is nervous. Other signs indicating you might be too close to a loon include if the loon is doing a "penguin dance", vocalizing at you, or is lying low with its head down. If you see any of these signs, give it more space! 

Click here to see the Loon Preservation Committee’s (LPC) “Understanding Loons: Learn to Read the Signs” brochure.

Respect Loons and Other Wildlife

  • Use only non-lead fishing tackle

  • Give them plenty of space (stay at least 150 feet from loons)

  • Retrieve fishing lines and other human debris that can choke, suffocate and starve wildlife

  • If a loon looks to be in distress DO NOT approach and follow steps below.

Reporting Possible “Loon-in-Distress”

Healthy preening behavior can make a loon appear injured or tangled.  Click here to see video and photos of a loon preening. If a loon has beached itself on shore or does have fishing line visible on it then call the Loon Preservation Committee (LPC) (603) 476-5666 (Hours: 9 am – 5 pm Monday-Saturday year round, and summer Sundays - July until Columbus Day), Voice or email (field@loon.org) messages to LPC are checked daily.

If you do not receive an immediate response from LPC or if animal in distress is not a loon then contact NH Fish & Game (603) 271-3361.

Be prepared to report the location of the loon, and, if possible, send a photo to the responding field staff or volunteers. Thank you for your help and concern in responding to sick and injured loons!    

Loon look-alikes

Some people may confuse other water birds with loons. Click here to link to LPC's "Loons and Other Waterbirds: How Do You Tell Them Apart?" web page. 

Get The Lead Out

According to the Loon Preservation Committee, lead fishing sinkers and jigs accounted for 44% of all documented NH adult loon mortalities between 1989 and 2011. Current state law bans the sale and freshwater use of lead sinkers and lead jigs weighing one ounce or less in New Hampshire. Lead is toxic to wildlife and humans and is no longer allowed in paint, water lines and gasoline. However, it is still allowed to be used in some states for fishing tackle and ammunition. Non-lead tackle is available in a wide variety of styles and sizes to meet the needs of anglers. For more information on loons and lead, click here.

Loon Chatter on Lake sunapee

Click here to see a video of loons taken by John Greenwood in the Blodgett's Landing area.

For more information about loons visit the Loon Preservation Committee.