Volunteers Sought for Loon Monitoring
Contact: Melissa Wilson,, 406 888-7895
Contact: Jami Belt, 406 888-7986
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Officials at Glacier National Park are issuing a call for loon monitors who will improve accuracy and increase observations of loons on park lakes throughout the nesting season. Volunteers will be part of the ongoing Citizen Science Project and will receive training as volunteer wildlife observers. Research will be used to provide a better estimate of loon population health and to begin to identify factors affecting nesting success.
All volunteers are welcome; no previous birding experience is necessary. Trail distance and difficulty varies and lakes will be assigned according to individual skills and needs.
After attending wildlife observer training in Common Loon biology and identification, volunteers will assist in one of two ways. Long-term wildlife observers will be used throughout the nesting season (May through August) to monitor one or more of Glacier’s lakes to document loon populations and behaviors. Short-term Wildlife Observers will take part during Montana’s annual loon count in Glacier Park on Loon Day, July 15, 2006, to determine if a particular lake has single loons, paired loons, or loons with young.
To volunteer and to register for a training class, contact Jami Belt at (406) 888-7986 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Two trainings will occur in West Glacier: Thursday, June 1, and Monday, June 12. On Tuesday, June 20, there will be a training offered in St. Mary. Training runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and will include both classroom and field training. Trainees should bring lunch, rain gear and binoculars or a spotting scope, if possible. Maps and specific location information for the training will be provided upon sign-up. Belt notes that if these training dates are inconvenient, please contact her as additional training sessions will be scheduled as needed.
Glacier has 45 priority lakes, lakes that are appropriate habitat for nesting loons. The Common Loon is a Montana Species of Special Concern. Glacier harbors 20 percent of Montana’s breeding loons. Data collected during annual Loon Day indicate lower reproductive rates in Glacier NP than in the rest of Montana. The number of young fledged each year in Glacier is not enough to sustain the population. Loons are adversely impacted by human disturbance at nest and nursery sites.