Love loons? The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is a great way to get involved with wildlife on lakes near you.
The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is a long-term project of the Nongame Wildlife Program. Hundreds of volunteers collect information about common loon numbers on more than 600 lakes. These lakes are distributed among six regions, or index areas.
Loons are good indicators of water quality because they need clean, clear water to catch food; sensitive to disturbance and lakeshore development; indicators of the effect of contaminants like mercury and lead in the environment; and enjoyable for Minnesotans to watch!
Volunteers visit each lake one morning during a 10-day period in the summer and count the number of adult and juvenile loons. The observations are shared with the DNR. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, we have over 20 years of data on more than 600 lakes. This long-term data gives us the ability to detect changes in the adult population and reproductive success of the state's common loons and to anticipate any problems that could jeopardize the future of our state bird.
Sign up for a lake
View available lakes with the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Volunteer Map.
View account information and your selected lakes in the Volunteer Lake Management System.
Survey Tips and Resources
- When do I survey?
- The monitoring period runs for 10 days from the last week of June through the first week of July.
- Surveys are done one morning between 5 a.m. and noon during the monitoring period.
- What equipment do I need to survey?
- Binoculars or a spotting scope
- Some lakes require a boat or canoe to survey
- Bird identification guide book (optional)
- How long does it take?
Survey time depends on lake size:
- Small lakes (<150 acres) 30 to 60 minutes
- Medium lakes (150 - 400 acres) 30 minutes to 2 hours
- Lake lakes (>400 acres) 2 to 4 hours
- What can I expect to see?
- Larger lakes are more likely to have loons.
- Most breeding pairs will have zero to two young.
- What if I find a dead loon?
We are collecting dead loons to determine cause of death. If you find a recently deceased loon that has not started to decay, collect it carefully (use gloves and wash after handling). Place it in a plastic bag and then in the freezer. Contact a Nongame Wildlife Specialist or the nearest DNR office. We are not collecting abandoned loon eggs for contaminant studies.
- 2017 Annual Report
- 22nd Anniversary Report: Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program 1994 - 2015
- Results of the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program 1994 - 2002
- An estimate of Minnesota's summer population of adult common loons (1989 study)
Aitkin and Crow Wing counties: Karen McLennan, 218-203-4352, [email protected]
Becker County: Nettie Cole, 218-308-2620, [email protected]
Cook and Lake counties: Bry Persing, 218-735-3962, [email protected]
Itasca County: Bry Persing, 218-735-3962, [email protected]
Kandiyohi County: Dorie Tess, 507-233-1250, [email protected]
Otter Tail County: Nettie Cole, 218-308-2620, [email protected]