Ancient Male Reappears!

1991 was the first year that marking of loons occurred in our study area. In that year, Dave Evers and his crew captured and banded seven adult loons, five males and two females. It was not until two years later that I began my behavioral study of the population.

Of those seven marked adults, two survived for at least 15 years, but none had been observed for the past two years. I had given up hope that any of the “Magnificent Seven” was still alive.

All of that changed recently, when Kristin nailed the bands on the male that had been caught on Little Bearskin Lake in 1991, produced 14 fledged chicks between that year and 2005, and was finally evicted by a younger male in 2006. (He tried to breed on Heiress Lake in 2008, but his nest failed.) Last spotted in 2010, this old fellow is at least 26 years old. Here is how we know this: He was first spotted as an adult in 1991, and no adult has ever nested at an age younger than 4 years; so he must have hatched no later than 1987.

So….kudos to Kristin for IDing this old guy and especially to the old guy himself, the only remaining member of the Magnificent Seven.