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The Uncommon Loon

The Uncommon Loon

Instructor: Denny Olson, M.S.


Meeting Place: Glacier Park Field Camp Meeting Hall (see campus map).

Food:  Students are responsible for all their own food.  Please bring a sack lunch for the field, snacks and water. For students staying overnight at camp, we have a kitchen in which you can cook meals and space available for food storage.

Accommodations: Lodging can be purchased for $32/person/night at the Glacier Institute Field Camp on a bluff overlooking the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.  Facilities include bunkhouses, a community bathhouse, a classroom, a library and a kitchen.  Please call the registrar at 406-755-1211 to book lodging.

Equipment: Please see basic gear list.  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 activity level.  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. 

Transportation during course: We will be traveling in a Glacier Institute Vehicle.

Weather: This course will not be canceled due to weather.

Recommended Reading:

Loon Magic, Tom Klein, Northword Press, 1985, 1995.

Common Loon:  Spirit of Northern Lakes, Judith McIntyre, U of Minnesota Press, 1988.

The Uncommon Loon, Terry McEneany, Northland Press, 1991.

Shared Spirits, Dennis Olson, Northword Press, 1995.  (Chapter 11).

Tentative Itinerary (subject to change depending on loon activity and road/trail closures):

We will begin with a PowerPoint 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. We will return to Field Camp by 5:00.