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Monday, July 9, 2012

Loon Song

Early in the morning, when the lake is still, I am surrounded by quiet, punctuated only by the calling of birds. On windless morns such as this, there are brief moments of absolute quiet. Have you had an opportunity to listen to the fullness of sound from a woods unaccompanied by the underlying hum of civilization: car, plane or radio?

This morning at 5 a.m. the loon sung to me through my open window. Judging by its call fishing, not flying. I imagine it's diving for minnows, but resist the urge to get up to look. Snug in my warm bed, the loon song lulls me back to sleep.

Not so long ago I would've raced for my binocs. Loons were rare in these parts. This year I hear or see a loon every day thanks to the efforts of people like my parents, and our federal tax dollars.

Back in 2001, local individuals, concerned about the dwindling loon population, decided to make a safe home for nesting loon pairs. They created the North Arm Lake Bellaire Loon Nursery. $267,000 in funds were raised from private individuals and a fundraising partnership composed of Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund, Forest Home Township, Three Lakes Association, The Hildreth Foundation, Inc., and The Les and Anne Biederman Foundation, Inc.

The final $50,000 came from federal funding from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Bird Conservation fund. The year that the loon nursery became reality, 44 other habitat preservation projects received a total of $2 million in federal funds that were matched six fold by communities across the U.S.

When we're arguing about the size of the federal budget, I doubt that many of us consider the federal grants that are matched by state and private contributions. I know I didn’t.

How many who were sung awake by the call of the loon this morning recalled the time when the loon's call was rarely heard? I, for one, appreciate the large-scale community effort that made this wildlife recovery possible.

Because of the people in this area who cared about the loons and joined forces, this county has the highest number of nesting pairs in the state, including the wilds of the Upper Peninsula; and I can listen to its plaintive call.