Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program

two loons in the water with reflections

Minnesota Loon Monitoring Map

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!

Volunteer today!

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.

Volunteer Map

Current volunteers

View account information and your selected lakes in the Volunteer Lake Management System.

Management System

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
  • Large 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.




Aitkin and Crow Wing counties: Karen McLennan, 218-203-4352, [email protected]

Becker County: Kristie Brezina, 218-671-7977, [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, 507-901-0142, [email protected]

Otter Tail County: Kristie Brezina, 218-671-7977, [email protected]


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