Caution: Babies on Board

Freedom — June 29, 2010 — There are baby loons on Berry Bay, and boaters are being asked to use special caution and keep their distance as the chicks get acclimated to their new environment – especially this holiday weekend when boat traffic will be at a peak.

A “once in a lifetime experience,” is how one observer described spotting the loon family; and it’s an observation echoed by John Cooley, Senior Biologist of the Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonborough.

“This is the first documented incidence of loons being born on Ossipee Lake since we started keeping records in the late 1970s,” Cooley said by phone. “There have been nesting pairs on the lake over the years and chicks may have been produced, but this is the first recorded incidence.”

The baby chicks were first reported by Leavitt Bay resident Cathie Bowen on June 22. In a posting on Ossipee Lake Alliance’s Facebook page, Bowen said she sighted the chicks riding on their mother’s back on Sunday the 20th and saw them again on Tuesday “out for a spin” on the east side of Leavitt Bay.

Loon Committee biologist Cooley confirmed the loon family seen on Berry Bay is the same family Bowen saw on Leavitt Bay. He said loons typically leave their nesting site after a period of time and transition to a new location to raise their chicks as part of a strategy to keep predators confused.

Leavitt Bay has had nesting loons each spring for a number of years, but the location of the nest proved vulnerable to boat waves and human disturbance until this year.

Last weekend, kayakers and canoeists spotted the loons on Berry Bay and waved away power boat operators who were recreating in the area. Those who have seen the small brown chicks say they are are hard to spot on the water if they’re separated from their parents.

Keeping a safe distance, professional photographer Joe Stark captured the photo on this page with a long lens.

Ossipee Lake Alliance will host a presentation called “Freedom’s Common Loons: Life in the Wild on Local Lakes” on Tuesday, August 3, at 7:30 p.m. under the big tent at Camp Calumet.  The event, part of Freedom Old Home Week, is free and open to all.


  1. Berna 14 years ago June 29, 2010

    How exciting……we will pass the word of caution to our friends.

  2. Allan Riley 14 years ago June 29, 2010

    Just spotted the father, mother and 2 chicks this morning, Tuesday 6/29/10 at 11:30 a.m., at the north end of Berry Bay. The chicks are swimming strongly along side of the mother! The father fishes for very small fish and brings them back to the chicks who spend some time in the water and some time on mother’s back. What a great site!

  3. freedom resident 14 years ago June 29, 2010

    Family in Leavitt bay as well. Just as you enter from the channel to Broad Bay Take extra care there as well.

  4. lupa gunt 14 years ago June 29, 2010

    In a world full of disastrous news, wars and economic downturns, this is delightfully fresh and uplifting news. Help the chicks reach adulthood by giving them lots of room and peace.

  5. Deb Stark 14 years ago June 29, 2010

    A wonderful experience seeing the loon family for sure. FYI, Joe “Stark” is actually Joe Callanan, Deb Stark’s husband (Deb is treasurer and secretary of the Berry Bay Association) and is from Joe Snow Photography of Freedom. You can see more of his work at the Freedom village store.

  6. Deb Edwards 14 years ago June 30, 2010

    Thanks to my Brother in law Keith Randino, a Freedom resident, we are enjoying this article and photo in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

  7. atony 14 years ago July 6, 2010

    felt bad for the loon family this weekend as the usual w/e warriors were in full force….hope the chicks survived the onslaught of non-local craziness

  8. Tracey 14 years ago July 7, 2010

    I love how all the negative things are blamed on the non-local people! Smarten up and get your facts right! I’m sure it was just the non-locals that were inconsiderate of the baby loons! All of you locals are so perfect!

  9. atony 14 years ago July 7, 2010

    well so sorry to ruffle your feathers Tracey, but just so YOU have some facts straight, you should know, we didn’t have a milfoil problem till guess when? till the state decided to establish public boat launches such that any stray unchecked boat could enter the water. now anyone can come in and infest the once pristine water of ossipee. and another little tidbit for you, us locals are going out to the sandbar to clean-up the bottles and cans and diapers left behind by the w/e warrior crowd…please don’t thank us just keep enjoying the lake. those of us who have a vested interest will work on the milfoil and trash problems left behind.

  10. tweetybird 14 years ago July 7, 2010

    i live near the sandbar..early monday after the 4th we took my niece and nephew over to swim and learn how to ski. what i saw was a bottles (broken glass) beer cans, ladies personal hygiene, cigarette cartons….i was disgusted…i was afraid the kids were going to cut their feet. i cleaned up as many cans as i could…got them safely back in the boat and when i looked down in the channel, i noticed what was left of a fireworks display the size of stove….the sandbar was trashed….most people who do not have a beach to toss things away…just toss it in the water….and most people who live and swim in that water on a daily/weekly basis would never behave so reckessly…this behavior will destroy our lake if it continues…

  11. Brian Taylor 14 years ago July 7, 2010

    Two adult loons with two chicks observed feeding this evening (7 July 2010) at 8:10 pm within 30 feet of shore, between docks on north side of Berry Bay. The family remained in the area for at least 30 minutes.

  12. jason 14 years ago July 8, 2010

    Marine patrol should start arresting the few that are causing problems. I am a weekend warrior and I would never do anything to hurt the lake. When I go by the sand bar I see a lot of young people with beers in hand.

  13. Dave 14 years ago July 9, 2010

    There is always someone that has to turn a nice story into a pissing contest!! Grow up!!

  14. atony 14 years ago July 13, 2010

    you’re a little over sensitive there Dave


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