Loons – Do I Stay or Do I Go?

Loons – Do I Stay or Do I Go?Here’s a program from our archives.ambience: Loon callsIn the next few weeks, loons in Canada and the United States will begin their fall migration to warmer climates where they’ll spend the next seven months. But, sooner or later, the loons will be back. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Dave Evers is a conservation biologist with the Biodiversity Research Institute. He tells us that right about now, loon chicks are learning to feed and to fly on their own.Evers: As these loon chicks grow through the summer, they’re putting a lot of weight on quickly and they’re growing their feathers, so they can eventually fly off that lake. And as they get through the summer, the adults become less protective, and the chicks become more independent. And eventually, that chick is on its own at about 10, 11, 12 weeks. And that’s about the time when that chick can fly. And at that time, that’s when the adults leave the chick there in the lake. They migrate and fly off to their wintering areas. And usually that young bird is left on that lake for another several weeks. And eventually it’ll leave that lake on its own. Come spring, the older birds will return to their breeding lakes to mate but the young birds will remain near the ocean until they’re old enough to breed.Evers: And what we find with these young birds is even though they’re leaving that lake on their own, maybe at fourteen weeks of age, and they spend three years on the ocean. And three years later, they’ll come back to that same lake. And the adults, of course, go back and forth every year, like any true migrant bird does, but the young birds need to, for whatever reason, they have to delay that migration back. Evolution has found that these birds do better if there’s a delay. There’s no need for all these loons to come back to the breeding lakes and crowd these lakes and forage on these lakes, especially if they can’t breed.Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Loons - Do I Stay or Do I Go?

This season, young loons depart for their first annual fall migration. In three years, they'll be back.
Air Date:08/28/2019
Scientist:
Transcript:

Loons - Do I Stay or Do I Go?Here's a program from our archives.ambience: Loon callsIn the next few weeks, loons in Canada and the United States will begin their fall migration to warmer climates where they'll spend the next seven months. But, sooner or later, the loons will be back. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Dave Evers is a conservation biologist with the Biodiversity Research Institute. He tells us that right about now, loon chicks are learning to feed and to fly on their own.Evers: As these loon chicks grow through the summer, they're putting a lot of weight on quickly and they're growing their feathers, so they can eventually fly off that lake. And as they get through the summer, the adults become less protective, and the chicks become more independent. And eventually, that chick is on its own at about 10, 11, 12 weeks. And that's about the time when that chick can fly. And at that time, that's when the adults leave the chick there in the lake. They migrate and fly off to their wintering areas. And usually that young bird is left on that lake for another several weeks. And eventually it'll leave that lake on its own. Come spring, the older birds will return to their breeding lakes to mate but the young birds will remain near the ocean until they're old enough to breed.Evers: And what we find with these young birds is even though they're leaving that lake on their own, maybe at fourteen weeks of age, and they spend three years on the ocean. And three years later, they'll come back to that same lake. And the adults, of course, go back and forth every year, like any true migrant bird does, but the young birds need to, for whatever reason, they have to delay that migration back. Evolution has found that these birds do better if there's a delay. There's no need for all these loons to come back to the breeding lakes and crowd these lakes and forage on these lakes, especially if they can't breed.Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.