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Loons Are Rarest Nesting Bird In Wyoming

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Loon populations in Wyoming have dropped to only 14 pairs and are the rarest nesting bird in the state, according to an initiative by the Biodiversity Research Institute based in Gorham, Maine.

The birds nest mainly in the northwest parts of Wyoming.  Executive Director David Evers says loons need large lakes with islands for safe nesting.  The initiative—known as “Restore the Call”—will use several innovative strategies to help loons feel less threatened.  One way is nesting rafts. 

“For loons, we are looking into testing out rafts on some lakes in WY,” Evers says.  “For a lake that may meet the needs of loons except for nesting, maybe we can fill in that piece of the puzzle to provide good nesting habitat, attract more loons and stabilize the population and build it a little more.”

Evers says he’s also working with national parks and national forests to locate nests.   

“When the park understands where the nest locations are, they can close trails and waterways for the short period of time when the birds are incubating.  And that’s like a 30-day period to make sure that—at least during the nesting period—human disturbance doesn’t have as much of an influence or adverse impact.”

Re-locating loon pairs to Wyoming is also in the works. The goal is 25 nesting pairs. The five-year project is funded by a $6.5 million Ricketts Conservation funds.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.

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