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A loon raft was placed in Cleveland Reservoir earlier this week.

Loon Rafts Installed In Pittsfield To Help Endangered Bird

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Loons have trouble walking on land so if water levels drop, they are unable to get to their nests.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state is looking to protect loons in Pittsfield.

The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife says statewide 18 loon rafts are planned to be installed to protect the bird. With loons being reportedly seen at reservoirs operated by the Pittsfield Water Department, rafts are planned to be deployed there.

"This month, loon rafts will be deployed at the DCR Wachusett and Quabbin Reservoirs and on reservoirs operated by the Fitchburg and Pittsfield water departments where loon pairs have been reported," the state said in its most recent newsletter.

The rafts are floated and anchored in loon territory and provide a place to protect the nests and eggs from being flooded. Loons "cannot walk well and are very awkward on land." In the spring they breed and build nests along shorelines.

However, with fluctuating water levels, the nests are sometimes flooded or water levels drop so much the loons can't reach them.

The rafts are constructed of cedar logs, foam and wire with vegetation placed onto to appear as a small island. Predator canopies are added and the raft floats so as not to be flooded or stranded.

Mayor Daniel Bianchi said the city had been approached by wildlife biologist Bridgett McAlice about putting a raft in Cleveland Reservoir because a pair of loons had been spotted there in recent years. Commissioner of Public Utilities Bruce Collingwood said loon activity has been seen around the raft since it was placed there on May 13.

"I am pleased to announce that the Cleveland Reservoir now joins the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs in the fight to protect, and bring back, the common loon population," said Bianchi. " The nesting of this loon pair will, hopefully, be the start of the reappearance of common loons in Berkshire County."

Meanwhile, the state is asking residents to report loons they see. The state has been monitoring loon nesting for years because common loons are listed as a species of special concern for endangered species.

Loons were absent from the state for nearly a century until they were found again in 1975 on the Quabbin Reservoir. By 1984, more loons were found on the Wachusetts Reservoir and two years later nesting activity began across he state.

In 2012, 35 territorial loon pairs were documented on 13 lakes and ponds.

Tags: birds,   lakes, ponds,   MassWildlife,   wildlife,   

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