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37th annual Maine Audubon Loon Count held

The citizen scientists spend their Saturday morning trying to provide a glimpse of Maine's loon population.
The citizen scientists spend their Saturday morning trying to provide a glimpse of Maine's loon population.(Brianna Bires)
Published: Jul. 18, 2020 at 12:47 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - For the past 37 years thousands of volunteers have participated in the Maine Audubon Loon Count.

The citizen scientists spend their Saturday morning trying to provide a glimpse of Maine's loon population.

Pat Edsall says, ”It certainly has a lot to do with the loon population in the state of Maine, how it is fairing. But also the lake quality because loons will not stay on a lake that is not clear enough to fish and be able to survive.”

David and Patricia Edsall have been counting loons for many years and say it is very popular on Branch Lake.

She adds, “I have a waiting list. People make it a family affair. It’s just fun to do and it’s disappointing when we come back and we haven’t seen any. It’s always exciting when someone says oh yes I have seen a loon. I’ve seen a chick or I have seen 4 adults.”

Saturday there were more than 40 volunteers that covered 23 sections of Branch.

"We are right in the middle of our section now."

David says loons are the "canary in the coal mine" when it comes to the health of the lake.

David Edsall says, “I think we are the 4th clearest lake in the state. Thirty to thirty-five feet of visibility and loons fish by swimming underwater and catching their fish so they have to have good visibility.”

Last year the Maine Audubon estimated a population of over 3-thousand loons and nearly 400 chicks for the southern half of the state.

He adds, “We have 2 to 4 chicks usually that are born but in the last several years’ none of them have made it or have been seen on the day of the count. Only about 1 out of 4 chicks survive.”

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