The Cry Of The Loon

Climate change seems to be on everyone’s mind lately. All over the world, more people are talking about problems related to the weather and how it is affecting where they live. Drought, oppressive heat, fires, storms and flooding rains are all in the news. Weather effects our daily lives but have you ever given thought to how it effects our wildlife. In Maine, the rising lake levels may have effected the nests of loons…click to listen to their   haunting cry.

Beautiful Loons On Long Lake, Naples, Maine

Never has a year at Long Lake started out as unusual as this one.  An extremely mild winter meant that the lake level was the lowest in decades. Then record rainfall brought the lake over its’ banks. Docks were underwater or pulled up and floating away, historic boathouses were flooded but in the distance I could hear the mesmerizing cry of the loon.

Docks Underwater Or Floating Away, Flooded Boat Houses But You Could Still Hear The Cry Of The Loon

Loons are great swimmers and divers so the rising waters would not effect them much. But they are very awkward on land because their feet are so far back on their body. For that reason, they build their nests at the water’s edge so their chicks can just slip right into the water. This usually happens in the months of May and June. The rising waters may have washed their nests and eggs away.

The loon is a symbol of Maine’s wilderness and is one of the most recognized and revered birds in the state. Long Lake covers 5,295 acres and is home to 12 loons according to the last count conducted in association with the Audubon Society of Maine in 2011. It has learned to coexist on our lake with development, tourism, boaters and fishermen.

Loons Swimming On Long Lake

The state promotes a good habitat for the loons through regulations that safeguard the quality of the water by prohibiting any new building on lakefront property closer than 100 feet from the water’s edge to guard against water pollution. Native plants along the shoreline are protected in undeveloped areas.

The loon is a large beautiful aquatic bird about 24 inches long and is similar in size to a small goose. There are several species in North America, Europe and Asia. The one found in northern New England is called the common loon. Seeing it up close, I would never describe it as common. This bird looks like it is dressed for a formal party with its’ black head with piercing red eyes, what looks like a necklace around its black neck, a white chest and black and white checkerboard feathers on its back.

Solitary Loon As The Evening Approaches

Tourists that visit the lakes region of Maine and have access to the water are often rewarded with seeing the beautiful bird. Others may be sitting by an outdoor campfire enjoying the starry night sky and hear its mournful call echoing across the lake. More than one child has been awakened from slumber while staying at one of the many summer camps, thinking that they have heard a ghost.  No ghosts…just the cry of the loon.

The shoreline of Long Lake was covered with four feet of water at its highest point during the flooding. Hopefully the loons had yet to build their nests.

Four Feet Of Water Covered Our Beach And Is Starting To Recede

The water retreated over a period of several weeks and is back to seasonal levels. Life along the lake has returned to normal for the residents and vacationers.

Our Cottage Beach After Water Receded

I’m hoping that the same thing can be said for the wildlife. I looking forward to spotting a loon on our lake carrying a little chick on it’s back then I will know all is well at the lake.

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130 thoughts on “The Cry Of The Loon

  1. Loons we don’t have on the harbor, at least not often, so I enjoy lake visits to hear their sound. I’m told by lake friends that sometimes they can be so raucous at night that sleep is challenged.

    1. Hi Tanya, Loon’s really are a beautiful bird. It is nice that the water is back to normal levels so that we can enjoy our little beach.

  2. This was very interesting…I did not know these facts about the loon. They are beautiful birds and I remember being entranced by jewelry designer, Ken Kantro’s, “preening loon” . Are you familiar with him ( When we visited Maine, I was able to visit one of his stores. I absolutely love his designs.

    1. Hi Bliss, I think that we are lucky to have the beautiful birds on our lake. The loon is a symbol of Maine’s wilderness and you see them depicted in lots of different ways. I have not seen the jewelry designer’s work that you mentioned.

      1. I just had to pipe in about the Lovell designs…Karen I bet you have seen them inadvertently as the designer is from “Lovell” Maine and his work is usually a prerequisite for any store selling such items! definitely take a look – beautiful work in pewter – I have a pair of earrings that I have treasured for over 20 years!

      2. Hi Carol, You are probably right that I must have seen them and just wasn’t aware of the designer. Now I can’t wait to go to a store to see for myself.

  3. With all the time I’ve spent/spend in Maine, I’ve never seen a loon. In a few weeks we’re headed to Donnell Pond it’s located in Franklin Maine, in the Acadia National Schoodic area near Ellsworth. The pond is 3 1/2 miles long. and I’m hoping to catch a few! I’d love to see a baby on it’s mamma’s back! I hope if you see that you’ll be able to take a photo and post it!

    Thank you for such a beautiful post!

    1. Hi Mary, Hopefully you will get a chance to see loons on your visit to Donnell Pond. We are lucky to have so many on Long Lake. We also have a bald eagle that lives somewhere in the area. I saw him twice this past week.

    1. Hi Monique, Loons really do have beautiful markings. We are lucky to have so many on our lake. I hope that I will see a young one in the coming weeks.

  4. I love this post! It makes me want to cry when I think of all the harm we, as humans, are doing to our environment and all the animals that are being displaced or dying because of it. We are fighting hydro fracking in our state (NY) and I only hope that our governor will do the right thing and vote against this grossly unregulated and extremely harmful form of mining that has laid waste to many lakes, streams and ecosystems.

    1. Thank you Laura, for your nice compliment. Nature gets harmed in so many ways…some naturally and some man made. I do hope that your area of NY will not be harmed.

    1. Hi Charlie, I am so hoping it is a good year for the loons. Having 12 on our lake was very good last year. The second largest lake in Maine is nearby and only had 5 last year. I do hope that chicks survived.

    1. Hi John, We do have beautiful trees…maple, birch, spruce and pine. I wish I could ship you a tree that could survive your harsh weather.

  5. What a touching post. Very poetic at so many levels. It is shocking to see how Nature has been turned upside down, over and over, in our modern times. Sometimes not the fault of man perhaps, but so often it is. I hope the nesting grounds are safe.

    1. Thank you Victoria, for your very lovely comment. I hope the nests weren’t built when we had the floods or that perhaps the chicks were hatched very early this year. I’ll be looking for some young ones.

  6. We listen to the loons at my parent’s cabin in BC.. I’m sure they’re a different breed of loon?? I didn’t know they have nests on the edges of the water, our lake rises as well, so I think out of habit they wouldn’t be laying them this close? The lake level rose to crazy heights this year.. sweeping under the deck so my parents weren’t able to get out there when they usually do. It sure seems we’ve made a mess of our environment… xo Smidge

    1. Hi Smidge, I believe that the loons are the same species…I know they are the same in eastern canada. The loons have to build their nests right at the water’s edge because they aren’t good at walking because of the way they are built. Rising water at the time of nesting destroys nests many years.

  7. Karen, thank you for this important, and poignant post. I think that everywhere we are, we are seeing how these dramatic weather shifts are taking their toll on the environment. We humans have to accept some responsibility here.
    I hope you see a chick on its mother loon’s back soon.

    1. Thank you very much, Nancy for your nice comment. I think we are seeing more and more problems with the weather and our environment does suffer. I am hoping to see a young chick on the back of it’s parent.

    1. Hi GGG, I took the photos of loons at the height of the floods. Now that the water is back to normal levels I do hope that I see families of loons swimming by.

    1. Hi Southern, I’m glad that you enjoyed the You Tube link…it is the first one I have done. I really wanted everyone to hear their sound. You hear it in the sound tracks of movies (On Golden Pond being the most famous) and in relaxation music. I really do hope that I see a family with two chicks… loons typically lay two eggs.

    1. Hi Dockfam, Thank you for stopping by and your nice comment. We are lucky to be surrounded by so much of natures beauty where we live.

    1. The Loons need a lot of luck, Mad Dog. I’ll thank you for them. The lake is beautiful…hopefully our boat will be in the water in a week or so (everything is behind schedule because of the high water) and I’ll take everyone on a tour.

    1. Hi Claire, I’m hoping that the chicks did survive. Yes there is possibly time for them to build another nest and lay two more eggs. The lake is a wonderful place to spend summer…it truly is nature at its finest.

    1. Hi Bonnie, I’m glad that I could let you learn a little about the beautiful loons on our lake. I love their sound…it is hauntingly beautiful. There is lots of media that will give you the sounds of loons…many are made for relaxation music.

  8. Beautiful birds! It is always so peaceful to see birds on a lake, in a way it says things are as they ought to be. I hope you are able to enjoy them once again.
    You mentioned the fires … the wildlife here has definitely been displaced with our fires. Some are seeing mountain lion drinking from their bird baths, others cannot return to their homes because more than 30 bears have taken refuge in their neighborhood. Glen Erie, a castle that survived the fire is host to a herb of Big Horn sheep, driven out of the mountains. There are photos of fire fighters feeding fox while on the line fighting this massive wildfire — amazing to see all that is being done to save so many of our neighboring creatures.

    1. Hi Judy, I think about you and the others that have to go through all of the terrible effects of the fires. I lived in Florida during Hurricane Andrew where there was such terrible distraction but fire is different. There is nothing left and everything and everyone in it’s path must evacuate. My prayers are with not only the people and animals that have to deal with the fires but also the those that work to control them. People sometime don’t think about all the wildlife that is involved when catastrophes occur.

    1. Hi Jabbear, I’m happy to have brought back good memories of your time in your “up north” of Wisconsin. The loons beautiful call does echo across our lake as well. It is a sound I always enjoy hearing…it is mesmerizing.

  9. What a haunting, yet beautiful cry. Thanks for the link. I was able to share with my granddaughters a bird we don’t see on our lakes. Your observation about weather affected habitats is certainly a concern for us all. I wonder at the resilience of the animal world and hope that we see signs of their on-going despite hardships! Lovely place to live, Karen! Debra

    1. Hi Debra, I’m so glad that you liked the link to hear the cry of the loon. This is my first link to a video and I thought it was important for people to know what their incredible haunting cry sounds like. It makes me so happy that you enjoyed the post enough to share it with your granddaughters. I truly think that we live in a beautiful part of the country.

    1. Hi Boleyn, I think that there is a reason that sayings may have become a cliche…but in a good way. Thank you for your nice comment…I appreciate it.

  10. We often forget that Nature’s other children often feel the impact of these events and, depending upon the population affected, it could take years for them to recover. Still, they are a resilient bunch and there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing little ones being taxied around the lake. I certainly hope so. With only 12 on the lake, every nest counts.

    1. Thank you John, for your nice comment. Every nest really does matter…the loons are very vulnerable to the conditions of their environment. We do forget about the lovely creatures that are impacted during natures catastrophes.

  11. Great Post – I miss the lakes and the calls of the loons some days – loving your photos. Like I stated to my family Holy Water Batman – send some out West please! Have a Great Day:)

    1. Thank you Renee, for your nice compliment. I’m really glad that you enjoyed the post. You definitely live in a totally different environment. Have a great day as well.

  12. I’m another who has never seen a loon. Infact I’d never heard of them until now! Their markings are beautiful. I certainly hope you find the eggs have survived and soon we’ll be seeing photos of the chicks!

    1. Hi Jenny, There are so many people that live in an area of the world where there aren’t any loons. They are a beautiful bird that I hope you get a chance to see in person someday. I do hope we find out that the eggs survived. I would love to be able to show everyone photos of the chicks…especially with them riding on the backs of one of their parents.

    1. Hi Cucina, I’m glad that you have had the opportunity to live in an area where loons are prevalent. They are such beautiful birds and they have an amazing call.

  13. I saw my first loon in the Adirondack Mtns in Northern NY…I love their cry, the babies and the way they dove for food for such long periods…I have never seen their nests and hope they were not washed away or maybe they will lay another clutch of eggs….you are so right Karen that we need to remember how all these changes in our weather affect the animals…I fear it is affecting too many of them into extinction in our lifetime

    1. Thank you Donna, for your lovely comment. I’m happy to hear that you have gotten to enjoy the experience of seeing loons. They are an incredible bird. I can’t believe that they can stay underwater for about 3 minutes at a time. They are such great swimmers…you see them go down for a fish in one spot and come up so far away. We really do have to be aware of how climate change not only effects humans but also wildlife and plants in our environment.

  14. The weather is absolutely crazy! I wasn’t aware of how it was affecting Maine so I found that quite interesting. We just had the second hottest June on record and that hasn’t been fun. Interesting information. The first time I heard a loon was when we were camping by a lake in British Columbia. The song of the loon is beautiful and the birds themselves are gorgeous! Once you hear them, you will always be able to recognize that distinctive call. Great post!

    1. Hi MJ, Thank you for your nice compliment…I’m glad you enjoyed the post. You are correct about the weather being crazy. Hopefully your weather will cool down a little. I love listening to the loons as they have such a unique call.

  15. Weather patterns really have been going crazy globally – back in Sydney they had something like 10 days of weather in summer over 30C ! And it’s so confronting to see how weather patterns affect wildlife. My fingers are all crossed that you see baby Loons or at least a healthy Loon community in your lake soon.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Carolyn. It does seem that no matter where in the world you are the weather patterns have changed. I heard one loon in the distance last night. I do hope I see some baby loons soon.

  16. I know the two are not related, but Loons make me think of Clair de Lune. The song is so serene yet slightly haunting, just like the birds’ own song. Gives me chills lol

  17. Karen, I just heard a piece on Maine Public Radio today about species that Maine is likely to lose with climate change because they are at the southern end of their range here and will likely move north as the climate warms; the list included two iconic Maine species, moose and loons. Sad to think about; like you, I love the sound of the loons.

    1. Hi Jean, Yes our area is being stressed with the slight warming that is happening each year. I do hope that we don’t loose our loons. Their numbers have been on the increase on our lake.

    1. Thank you Barb, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. I agree about how special the loons call is…I always enjoy the sound.

    1. Hi Reem, Loons really are a beautifully marked bird. If the nests were washed away, I’m hoping that they will rebuild them now that the water is back to normal levels.

  18. Ugh. We tend not to think about the “little” things like this but we really should! I hope all is well with the loons in the end!

  19. Here in Colorado we get Loons on our lakes in the Winter. So, I don’t get to see them in their breeding plumage or hear their call. But love watching them diving for food and guessing where they’ll come up. Sometimes you think they’ve drown. Keep us posted, I hope the nests are safe.

    1. Hi Lea Ann, It is fun to watch the loons when they are diving. They come up so far away from where they went down…I can’t believe how long they can stay underwater. I hope that I will be able to update this post with photos of a family that includes young ones.

  20. I love the loons’ lonely cries. We can sometimes hear them in the evening, from the direction of the river. I’ve never set eyes on them, but they’re there…
    Great photos of the lake today. It’s already 80 degrees down here, and that cool water looks so inviting!

    1. Hi Marie, I hope you get the opportunity to see one someday. Our weather is lovely on the lake today. The day started out about 60 and should be 80 this afternoon. With weather like this, my tomatoes should start setting fruit.

    1. Hi Kimberly, Thank you for your lovely compliment. We do think we have a beautiful place to spend summers. I’m glad you enjoyed the link…I did want people to be able to hear their lovely sound.

  21. I would love to see a loon with a chick on its back. That just sounds precious! Glad to hear the water levels are back to normal. And as always…love your pictures of Maine. 🙂

    1. Thank you Kristy, for your nice compliment. We are so happy that the water is back to normal levels. I hope that one day I will get to see and capture a chick resting on its parents back. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

  22. We have looms on our lake too, Karen! They are indeed majestic; I love hearing their cry as the sun is setting. We had a very strange occurrence a few years back; JT and I were canoeing in the middle of the lake when we witnessed about 15 loons gathered together in a circle facing inward. They were about 20 feet in diameter; they seemed to be chatting. Them all of a sudden, they all flapped their wings and dispersed! It was like the meeting had ended!

    1. Hi Eva, My husband and I have seen what you are talking about. There was a group of about 8 loons in a circle and then they all dove. We were told that they are gathering a school of fish and then they dive down for their meal.

      1. That’s so cool, Karen. But it is rather odd that it’s the only time we’ve ever seen this type of behavior, I’ve been going up to the cottage for 30 years, and my hubby 56! I am going to google it now.

    1. Thank you Pumpkin for your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I hope I will get a chance to update this post with good news…that would be wonderful. We are waiting for our boat to come out of storage and then I’ll give everyone a tour around the lake.

  23. how sad it will be if all the nests were washed away – but nature works in mysterious ways and maybe the loons knew the rains were coming? My blog move is complete 🙂

    1. Hi Tandy, I’m hoping that you are right. If nests get washed away, loons sometimes start the procedure all over and lay two more eggs. I went back to your blog just now and the glitch must have been fixed. That is a good thing.

    1. Hi Celia, Thank you for your nice comment. I do hope they don’t lose the breeding season. They are known to rebuild their nests and start again sometimes. It does appear that the weather is changing all over the world.

  24. The song of a loon is one of my favorite sounds in the world. We have many of them here in Minnesota with our “Land of 10,000 Lakes” but it still feels so special every time I hear one…

    1. Hi Jewels, Thank you for stopping by and your nice comment. The sound of the loons is so special…no matter how many times you hear them. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    1. Thanks Betsy, I appreciate your concern about the rising water on the lake. It is wonderful that the water has receded. I hope you get a chance to see the lovely loons one day. If there are any little chicks to see on the lake, you know I will be updating this post with happy news. Have a great 4th!

    1. Hi Natalia, Thank you for your nice compliment. We have a stuffed loon in our historical museum as well. Thank goodness we still have them on our lake. The number has slowly grown over the last years…there were 5 in the 90’s so they have more than doubled since then.

  25. What a beautiful lake Karen. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever seen a loon. But, we do have lots and lots of birds here in the mountains and we love that they wake us up each morning. The weather this year has been crazy and they have every right to cry. This week we had a heat wave in the mountains (and I wanted to cry) and it was cooler in south Florida than here. Unbelievable. Hope you have a wonderful 4th of July and take care of the loons.

    1. Hi Sam, It is hard to believe that it is so hot in the mountains where you are…I hope the weather cools off. The weather really is crazy. Have a great 4th of July celebration.

    1. Hi Carol, Would you believe that Sebago Lake is the second largest lake in Maine and connects to our lake through Brandy Pond and the Songo River and it only had 5 loons that were counted last year. It really is a shame.

      1. Hi Carol, Norway had a firetruck in the parade, as did Bridgton, Casco, and Harrison. Summer is always a fun time to be in the lakes region.

      2. I have to totally agree with you Carol. Beautiful scenery and a simple lifestyle equals happiness as far as I concerned.

  26. Hi Karen – I’ve never heard of the loon before. I guess maybe it’s indigenous to north America or something. Do you have coots over there? I always love the sound of those!

    I’m glad things are sort of normal again now, though I hope you’ll see some little baby chicks!

    1. Hi Charles, The variety of loon that is found in Maine is not in Europe. Loons are also called divers and there is a red throated loon in the northern extremes of Europe. I think that they might be found in some parts of Sweden. I do hope that I will be able to see some young loons soon.

  27. Karen what a beautiful and heart touching post! An excellent and much needed reminder to be vigilant about caring for our earth and working together to create harmony between us and nature.

    1. Thank you Karista, for your lovely compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Some of natures problems are unavoidable but as you say people should try to live in harmony with nature.

    1. Hi Angie, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. The loons really are beautiful birds. I do hope that they have time to hatch two new chicks. Thank you for your nice comment.

  28. Glad you have your beach back!! And I too love the Loons. We don’t have them this far south in the state. Perhaps I will have to watch “On Golden Pond” this weekend.

    1. Hi Stacey, We really are happy that the lake level is back to normal. Yes…the beach is back just in time for the summer visitors that come to visit us. I think that the movie “On Golden Pond” is why so many people are aware of the cry of the loons.

  29. Drought, heavy rains, scorching heat, dying livestock, gardens burning up…what a summer!
    Your loons will hopefully survive and thrive once it rains again. Stay cool up there. Down here it is 105 degrees and no rain for weeks. Thinking of you.

    1. Hi Teresa, Thank you for your comment. The problem with the loons was too much rain which caused our lake to rise to historic levels flooding the nesting grounds as well as portions of town. The adult loons would have no problems…the eggs or chicks would have the problem surviving. I do hope that your weather turns cool and that you get beneficial rains soon. Our temperature has been nice…high in the mid to high 80’s now but will return to 80 by Sunday.

  30. Hi Karen, What a lovely post about Loons! I have two small handmade wooden Loons given to me by friends who are from Maine. I was lucky enough to see and hear Loons while in the Adirondacks a number of years ago, too. Beautiful animals, that aren’t commonly known.

    1. Hi Dana, Thank you so much for your lovely compliment. I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post. Loons are very beautiful and I’m glad that you have had the opportunity to hear and see them. How nice that you have come carved wooden ones from your friends.

  31. The loon there must be viewed much the same way it is in Northern Minnesota where my husband is from. In fact, every year, in his hometown, they have a weekend-long festival called “The Land of the Loon”

    1. You are right Ducky, the loon is a much loved bird in Maine. As a matter of fact the loon is on Maine license plates. The Land of the Loon festival must be a nice event.

  32. Love your setting … you’re so lucky to have a surrounding like that .. love the loons too. My aunt had a summer place up in northern part of Sweden and they had loons on their lake. There is something very relaxing in their “crying”.

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