The Uncommon Loon
Instructor: Denny Olson
July 3 at 7 a.m.
This course will focus on the unique creature that calls many of the lakes in Glacier National Park home. Through this course we will learn about loon anatomy, propulsion, flying, eye color and other adaptations. We will spend time exploring premier loon habitat in Glacier, with participants walking away with the knowledge and admiration that these birds are indeed uncommon.
Meeting Place: Glacier Institute Field Camp.
Itinerary (subject to change): At 7 a.m. we will begin with an introduction to basic loon natural history and ecology. From there we will head out into the field to Winona Lake, on the Glacier National Park Inside North Fork Road, to learn about loon anatomy, propulsion, flying, eye color and other adaptations. This is about the time when chicks normally hatch at this site, so we will be watching through spotting scopes at a respectful distance. As a bonus, our field outing offers the possibility of seeing Hawk owls, Great Gray owls and Black-backed woodpeckers – three rare, sought-after species. We will also discuss nesting habitat, site selection and chick rearing. Next, we will drive to Hidden Meadow for lunch in the field and for an opportunity to study vocalizations, mating behaviors, management concerns and connections of loons to other species. The instructor will share his favorite Native American Loon Story. The course will end by 4 p.m. and will not be cancelled due to weather.
Food: Please bring a trail lunch, plenty of water and snacks for the day.
Park Entrance Fees: Participants are responsible for purchasing their park entry passes prior to the course. These can be purchased online at: https://www.recreation.gov/sitepass/74280.
Equipment: You will receive a Field Camp gear list once your register. Most importantly are comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1-2 liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat, and sunscreen. Weather can be varied so please be prepared with appropriate clothing, and warm layers. Binoculars and/or a spotting scope will be helpful if you have them as well as your favorite guidebooks and a field journal.
Physical Requirements: Moderate difficulty. We will be hiking less than three miles and up to 1,000 feet elevation gain to various sites at an easy pace, stopping frequently to listen for, observe and identify loons.