A LOVE STORY: Two of world’s oldest loons, longtime mates return to Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Michigan

Oldest known loon, Fe, awaits the return of her partner of 23 years, the ABJ, on her partially-thawed F Pool territory on April 8th. Photo courtesy of Laura Wong.

SENEY, Mich. (WJMN) – Two of the world’s oldest documented Common Loons on the planet have returned back to their home on the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. But the history between the male called the ABJ and the female named Fe is much more than that. As their love story began 23 years back on the refuge.

According to Damon McCormick of Common Coast Research and Conservation, the ABJ and Fe have been paired on the refuge since 1997. McCormick has done much of the work on this population of loons.

The ABJ was banded as a young refuge chick in 1987 and in June he will turn 33-years-old. His female mate, Fe, was first color-marked in 1990, this makes her at least 34-years-old and also the oldest known loon.

Over the past 23 years, the two lovebirds have produced offspring at a “much higher rate than their refuge counterparts.” McCormick said loons do not mate for life, and prior to coupling the ABJ and Fe together, Fe was actually coupled to a different male for at least seven years.

Fe is also known to be a “successful Seney mother”, as she is the most productive loon, with at least 33 chicks who have successful left fledged from Seney.

“In the coming weeks, the venerable F Pool pair will vigorously defend their territory from other adult loons in search of their own breeding turf and mate. If successful in parrying these challenges, the ABJ and Fe will settle in for a record 24th consecutive season of nesting at Seney, with one or two chicks hopefully hatching in June or early July,” said McCormick.

So there you have it, folks. Two of the world’s oldest loons and longtime mates have returned to their home, marking another season of love for the ABJ and Fe.

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