8 Reasons to Love Loons

Give Me S’more
March 14, 2019
It’s Tee Time in the Brainerd Lakes Area
April 24, 2019
When you visit Lake Country, chances are you’ll hear the common loon’s eerie wail and even see them on the water. Loons—much like the lakes they call home all summer—are an iconic symbol of Minnesota. Learning more about these amazing and adaptable birds will make you love them even more.


1) How many loons are in Minnesota?

Minnesota has the highest loon population outside of Alaska with approximately 12,000 birds.


2) What do the different loon calls mean?

Loons are one of the most vocal of all water birds. They can be heard during the day, but they’re mostly known for their haunting calls at night. One of the most common questions that I get when guiding is “what are the calls and what do they mean”? People love hearing the four distinct calls.

  • YODEL (long, rising call with repetitive notes)
    Given by male loons when declaring or defending its territory.
  • TREMELO (crazy, manic laugh)
    This aggressive, distressed call is given when alarmed or disturbed and can be used by a loon to defend its territory.
  • WAIL (similar to a wolf ’s howl)
    This is the most eerie and haunting of all the calls. Used during social interactions between loons or to find each other’s locations.
  • HOOT (short low note)
    Mostly given between adult loons and chicks or sometimes to other loons in close proximity.


3) How deep can a loon dive?

Loons are like torpedoes in the water—diving over 200 feet for fish. They can stay underwater for up to five minutes, and their red eyes help them see under water.


4) Is it true that loons need a lot of “runway” on the water to take off?

Yes. Because loons’ bodies are heavy compared to their wing size, it can take them up to 600 feet to take off from a lake. Loons are fast once in the air, too. They can fly over 70 mph.


5) Do loons ever go on land?

Loons only go on land to mate and incubate eggs. Loons’ legs are set far back on their bodies making them excellent swimmers but awkward on land.


6) Where do loons go in the winter?

Adult loons are the first to migrate to their winter home on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts while juvenile loons follow about a month later.


7) Where can I see loons in the Brainerd Lakes Area?

You can see loons on about any lake in the Brainerd Lakes Area! With our abundant clean, deep lakes, it’s common to see or at least hear loons during the summer in the area. Please remember to be respectful and share the water with loons. Having loons on our lakes is a good indicator of the area’s overall aquatic health.


8) What is being done today so future generations can continue to love loons?

The National Loon Center Foundation was established in 2017 with a mission to restore and protect loon habitats, enhance environmental recreation, and construct a research and education center for migratory wildlife. The foundation and its partners are working to establish a National Loon Center in Crosslake, Minnesota with a target opening in 2022.