Pete Markham / pmarkham on Flickr

This week’s Wildlife Matters springs from a Curious North question.

Kaye Jaeger from the town of Crescent asks: We love the loons on our lake. We also love the eagle that flies over regularly. Is there anything we can do to prevent the eagle from eating the baby loons?

To respond to Kaye's question, the Masked Biologist contemplates the interactions of two charismatic Northwoods wildlife species: bald eagles and loons.


A wildlife rehabilitation expert says anglers could go a long way to help two key members of the Northwoods bird family.

Mark Naniot from Wild Instincts Rehab near Rhinelander says many eagle and loons have been hit by lead poisoning...

"....lead fishing tackle, we're trying really hard to get the lead out of fishing equipment. Between Loons and (bald) Eagles we see a tremendous amount of lead poisoning these days. A lot of it is due to the fishing equipment we use...."


Two loons within the space of a month were snared by fishing tackle on Two Sisters Lake in the town of Newbold. Both birds survived, but needed outside help.

Mark Naniot from Wild Instincts animal rehab near Rhinelander was called to help each loon...

"....the male ended up getting hooked in the upper bill. We worked with the Loon Research Team. We were able to capture the Loon and remove the hook out it's mouth. One thing we were concerned about is the chicks had just hatched that day..."

Loons Show Signs of Aging

Nov 12, 2014
Mike Baird via https://flic.kr/p/JAwGP

A researcher working in the Northwoods has found evidence that loons age.  Scientists haven’t been able to demonstrate this until now because of how long loons live. 

Chapman University’s Walter Piper has been studying loon behavior for the past twenty two years, through research in Oneida County called the Loon Project.

Cutting Mercury Emissions Likely to Help Loons Reproduce

Oct 23, 2014
Mike Baird via https://flic.kr/p/JAwGP

New state mercury emissions rules for power plants could have significant benefits for loons.

A Northwoods researcher is hoping to quantify those benefits over the next decade. 

Wisconsin DNR Toxicologist Mike Meyer says when loons consume mercury through eating fish, it can inhibit the birds’ reproduction.

Loon Chicks Likely To Number Forty Percent Fewer

Jul 3, 2014
Mike Baird via https://flic.kr/p/JAwGP

Loons are still feeling the impact from swarms of black flies that drove most pairs from their nests earlier this year.  There’s likely to be a 40 percent drop in the number of chicks compared to last year.

Thanks to the black flies, more than two thirds of loons in a study abandoned their first attempt at a nest.  Researcher Walter Piper of the Loon Project says even though most have by this time made a second attempt, reproduction is way behind. 

Loons Abandon Nests Facing Droves of Black Flies

Jun 4, 2014
Mitch Mode

As many of us in the Northwoods are being driven crazy by mosquitoes, loons are being harassed by blackflies. 

High numbers of loons are having trouble staying on their nests this year due to a surge in a certain kind of black fly that only targets loons.  

Walter Piper, a researcher from Chapman University who has been studying loons in the Northwoods for twenty two years, says it’s the most abandoned nests he’s ever seen.  WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski spoke with Piper about what that means for the loon population.

Loons Spared From Ice Storms This Year

Apr 28, 2014
Mike Baird via https://flic.kr/p/JAwGP

With the ice slowly melting, loons are starting to return to the Northwoods. 

Though this winter has been long, one wildlife rehabilitator says it’s been much better for loons than last year.

Marge Gibson from the Raptor Education Group remembers that last spring she treated dozens of loons that had been caught in ice storms while in flight.