Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024
Loon taking flight

Calling all citizen scientists!

Grab your paddle and join us for the 23rd Annual Loon Count in Killarney Provincial Park.

  • Spring Count: Saturday, June 8, 2019
  • Summer count: Saturday, August 10, 2019

What is a loon count?

loon sitting in the reeds

Killarney has hosted Loon Counts for 22 years as part of the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey conducted by Birds Study Canada to monitor our loon populations.

The spring count is done primarily to see if we see pairs of loons. The summer count is done to observe if these pairs have nested or had offspring.

Volunteers board canoes and spread out across the park, recording every loon sighting.

Why do we count loons?

Loons are an important member of the Killarney ecosystem and a great indicator species. Loons need a healthy ecosystem that provides them with adequate food for their survival, so monitoring their activity can indicate the health of our lakes.

David Lago

Decades ago, acid rain affected the park’s aquatic ecosystems: water quality decreased and food for the loons became scarce, so they left. Reducing air pollution has improved water quality, the park’s aquatic ecosystems have recovered, and loons have returned.

Data collected from Loon Counts helps track the recovery of lakes that suffer environmental stressors, such as acid rain damage. Today, populations are greatly affected by increased human pressure such as the presence of cabins, boating and fishing. The data collected suggests that the reproduction rate of the common loon has decreased over the past 30 years.

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loon swimming with chick

By participating in loon counts, we are also helping scientists understand loon populations in Killarney Provincial Park so we can take steps to protect them.

Information collected from counts across the country is sent to Bird Studies Canada (its Canadian Lakes Loon Survey began in 1981) to provide information on loon population trends. These reports improve our understanding of grebes, lakes and our impact on them. This will help conserve these special birds and their habitat. Learn more about the survey here.

I’m in! When is the count?

Volunteer loon counters will meet at the Park Nature Center at George Lake Campground at 9:00 am. The Killarney naturalist team will give a brief orientation on how to conduct surveys safely, accurately and respectfully.

Killarney Rowers

Volunteers will then be divided into teams and sent to their assigned lakes. Loons will be counted in the survey lakes between 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm Spring count volunteers will have the opportunity to monitor loons they spotted in June.

Volunteers must register in advance. by email ([email protected]).

I want to volunteer for the loon count, but…

woman filling a cup at a cookout…I might get hungry

Volunteers are responsible for preparing their own lunch.

We suggest plenty of snacks to keep you energized during your paddle!

…I don’t live near Killarney

Tent and canoe at the campsite.The more counters we have, the more accurate our count will be. That’s why we’re inviting volunteers from all over Ontario.

For those driving long distances, free camping can be provided at George Lake Campground for volunteers (space permitting). If it’s already full (possible for summer headcount), there is camping accommodation in Killarney town at Rocher Rouge Campground.

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Similarly, for those wishing to survey the inland lakes, a field site may be provided for Saturday evening. If possible, bring your own canoe to the event. Some lakes are also available for hiking.

Don’t forget to register!

loon in the nest

Sign up to volunteer with Spring Loon Count by email ([email protected]).