A study, using satellite telemetry, was conducted to determine the precise migration patterns and wintering locations of Common Loons (Gavia immer) breeding in the northeastern United States. Transmitters were implanted in 17 loons (16 adults and one juvenile) that were captured on breeding lakes in New York, New Hampshire, and Maine during the summers of 2003, 2004, and 2005. Transmitters from ten of the birds provided adequate location data to document movement to wintering areas. Most adult loons appeared to travel non-stop from breeding lakes, or neighboring lakes (within 15 km), to the Atlantic coast. Adult loons marked in New Hampshire and Maine wintered 152 to 239 km from breeding lakes, along the Maine coast. Adult loons marked in the Adirondack Park of New York wintered along the coasts of Massachusetts (414 km from breeding lake), Rhode Island (362 km), and southern New Jersey (527 km). Most of the loons remained relatively stationary throughout the winter, but the size of individual wintering areas of adult loons ranged from 43 to 1,159 km 2, based on a 95% fixed kernel utilization distribution probability. A juvenile bird from New York made a number of stops at lakes and reservoirs en route to Long Island Sound (325 km from breeding lake). Maximum functional life of transmitters was about 12 months, providing an opportunity to document spring migration movements as well. This work provides essential information for development and implementation of regional Common Loon conservation strategies in the Northeastern U.S.
Additional publication details
Migration patterns and wintering range of common loons breeding in the Northeastern United States