As reported last Fall, … following the unexpected death of our Province Lake loon chick in mid-August, the body was transported to the Loon Preservation Center for examination.

They had the veterinary team at Tufts examine the bird.  The findings were:

This loon was necropsied in December at Tufts by Mark Pokras. 

  1. A healthy female in good body condition (2.1 kg, precisely average for a healthy chick that age (about 33 days after hatch)).
  2. No evidence of ingested fishing tackle or human-caused problems. 
  3. Extensive trauma was the cause of death.  

John Cooley, Senior Biologist at LPC added:

All of the specific findings at necropsy were consistent with the observations that an intruding loon likely killed the chick.  Interestingly, this case was necropsied on the same day as another loon chick, from Kanasatka Lake in Center Harbor, NH.  In that case, people on the lake had watched a bald eagle attack the chick, so we were pretty sure of the cause, but Mark noted that the signs of trauma were very similar in the two cases.  I do not think this suggests that an eagle was the culprit at Province Lake. 

Thank you to everyone involved in monitoring last year’s nest and loon family, and in reporting the loss of the chick.  We are transferring tissue samples from this loon to UNH for cyanotoxin testing.

I know the cyanotoxin results will be of interest, because the loon chick was born and raised on Province Lake during the season when cyanobacteria were active, and I will keep you posted if I hear those results from UNH over the course of the spring and early summer.