LEWISTON — The Stanton Bird Club of Lewiston and Auburn will hold its next meeting Monday, April 3, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 285 at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College, 55 Westminster St.

The subject will be “Restoring the Call: Translocation and Captive Rearing of the Common Loon” presented by Michelle R. Kneeland, DVM, staff veterinarian and director of the Wildlife Health Program at Biodiversity Research Institute, where she oversees multiple research projects. BRI is a Portland-based organization seeking to evaluate rising dangers to wildlife and ecosystems.

Kneeland also serves as adjunct professor and attending veterinarian at USM, as well as volunteering with wildlife rehabilitation centers in New England with veterinary consultation. 

April is the month when loons begin returning to central Maine. The mournful call is one of the state’s precious treasures. Maine has the largest loon population in the Northeast. Maine has about 1,700 territorial pairs of loons on our lakes and ponds. Vermont, New Hampshire and New York each have 300 pairs or less, and Massachusetts has only 45 pairs. 

Restore the Call is a five-year program to build up and restore loon populations in existing and prior ranges in the U.S. It is the largest conservation study on the Common Loon ever conducted. The program has included loon population assessments, conservation efforts and research and restoration studies. In 2014, as part of this program, BRI began the first-ever loon translocation and captive rearing effort. More than 30 loons have been successfully moved, and new techniques for captive rearing of loon chicks have been developed. The project has gained national attention through media outlets including CBS Evening News, NPR and National Audubon magazine.

Two birding trips are also planned for the month of April:

Birding on the Riverwalk and Downtown Lewiston: Saturday, April 15Participants will meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Promenade Mall at 855 Lisbon St., Lewiston, at the end of the parking lot by Staples across from Marquis Signs. After carpooling over to the Riverwalk, participants will search along the river for ducks, gulls, possibly a hawk, peregrine falcon or eagle, as well as local songbirds. Among the ever-present mallards, it is challenging to search for other varieties of ducks, such as perhaps a common goldeneye. An assortment of hawks may be returning by this date, such as the red-shouldered hawk and Cooper’s hawk. The trip is planned to return to the mall about 11 a.m. This trip will be led by Dan Marquis. FMI: 207-513-8213.

Lewiston/Bates Bird Walks: Tuesday, April 25The second field trip for this month is the first of a set of five early-morning bird walks in the Bates College area. These walks will meet each Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., and offer a great way to see returning songbirds, including many warblers. The walks begin at the front of Hathorn Hall on the Bates College campus and go past Mount David to Riverside Cemetery, then down to the river. The trip finishes by circling Lake Andrew, frequently seeing mallard ducklings, red-winged blackbirds and sometimes an osprey diving for fish. The trip is planned to return by 8:30 a.m. The walk leaders include Judy Marden, Doug Boyd and Steve Reed. FMI: 207-319-6630.

During the latter part of April and throughout May, each week finds a greater variety of birds returning for the season, making these weekly Bates walks potentially full of exciting discoveries. For this first walk, some newly returned birds that we might hope to see include eastern bluebirds, tree swallows, yellow-rumped warblers, song sparrows and eastern phoebes. 

The Stanton Bird Club manages the Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary as well as the Woodbury Nature Sanctuary in Monmouth and Litchfield. It seeks to encourage both the enjoyment and protection of our natural surroundings.

FMI: Jeri Maurer, 207-524-2060, [email protected], www.StantonBirdClub.org, or find the organization on Facebook. 

Adult common loon with a chick riding on its back.

Comments are not available on this story.