Canadian Lakes Loon Survey

Common Loons have returned to Canadian lakes for another nesting season. Hundreds of volunteers for Bird Studies Canada’s Canadian Lakes Loon Survey are also returning to their lakes – to monitor Common Loons, and to educate lake users on loon and lake conservation.

With more than 80% of the world’s Common Loon population breeding in our country, Canadians have a critical role to play in conserving and monitoring loons. Each summer, volunteers participate in the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey ( Surveyors monitor loons’ breeding success, and undertake conservation activities to help protect wildlife, waterbirds, and especially loons (which build their nests very close to the water’s edge) on Canadian lakes.

Photo by Bob Lefebvre

Bird Studies Canada is extremely grateful to all loon surveyors for their outstanding work. BSC staff are currently analyzing the 30+ years of loon survey data for an upcoming report. The results are impressive: more than 4500 lakes have been surveyed for at least one year, with an average of over 500 lakes surveyed each year, between 1981 and 2011. This translates into information for nearly 19,000 breeding attempts by pairs, enabling scientists to detect trends in the numbers of chicks produced over time. This large and extremely useful dataset would not exist without the valued help of Canadian Lakes Loon Survey participants. Bird Studies Canada is eager to share the report later this year, and to say a big “Thank You!” to all the volunteers who have helped support loon conservation over the last three decades.

Survey Participants Needed

Even with more than 600 participants nationwide annually, there are still many undersurveyed lakes. The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey is a great opportunity for volunteers to help lake conservation and loon research while enjoying their favourite lakes. To participate, first visit the lake map at  Note that there is only one lake in the Calgary area currently being surveyed.  There are many other lakes near the city that have breeding loons on them (if you know of one, please comment on this post to share that information).  Choose a lake that you regularly spend time on, or are able to visit three times each summer (June, July, and August).  Then register as a participating member online at For more information, contact Kathy Jones at or 1-888-448-2473 ext. 124, or visit  It’s not too late to start this year, but if you can’t begin yet, please keep this survey in mind for next summer.

Help Protect Lakes and Loons

At the lakeside, you can help breeding loons and other waterbirds by following these tips: avoid adult loons, chicks, and nests; when boating, steer clear of shoreline areas that show evidence of loon activity; keep pets leashed; and dispose of garbage properly (to prevent ingestion by loons, and to avoid feeding nest predators such as gulls and raccoons).

The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey is a self-supporting program, so participants need to purchase a Bird Studies Canada membership. Membership fees cover the costs of materials, data processing and management, and program administration. Additional costs, such as special reports, educational materials, and program outreach are covered by other funding sources. Special thanks to TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and the Kenneth M. Molson Foundation for supporting 2012 outreach and educational activities and the 2012 report.

Bird Studies Canada ( administers regional, national, and international research and monitoring programs that advance the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. We are Canada’s national body for bird conservation and science, and we are a non-governmental charitable organization.

For further information contact:

Kathy Jones, Canadian Lakes Loon Survey Volunteer Coordinator

Bird Studies Canada

519-586-3531 ext. 124

Birds Calgary blogger Bob Lefebvre is a participant in the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey. You can read his posts from last year at Loon Survey #1, Loon Survey #2 and Loon Survey #3. 


2 thoughts on “Canadian Lakes Loon Survey

  1. There are loons nesting on the big lake at the Livingston Ranch Golf Course on the Sibbald Creek Trail (Highway 68) just off the Trans-Canada highway, about 25 km west of Calgary.

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