Chick hatches for world’s oldest loon couple at Michigan wildlife refuge

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Courtesy; MLive

The birth announcement that came from a wildlife refuge in the central Upper Peninsula this week was another bit of history for a feathered family who makes their summer home there. The world’s two oldest documented common loons have hatched their first chick of the season together at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.

According to a photographer who saw the parents with their new offspring, the mother and father loon were “cooing to the chick just after it hatched. Fe, the mother, lured the chick off the nest and into the pool with a small fish,” wildlife refuge staff said in a Facebook post this week.

The long-term loon partners – a male known as “the ABJ” (Adult Banded Juvenile) and a female known as “Fe” (pronounced “Fay”) have made Seney National Wildlife Refuge in the eastern-central U.P. their summer breeding ground since 1997.

The ABJ was banded as a young chick in 1987 by Common Coast Research and Conservation. He will turn 33 this June, making him the oldest common loon of known age on Earth, wildlife officials have said.

Fe is the oldest-known loon. Researchers believe she will be turning at least 34 this season. Her exact age is unknown. She was banded in 1990 when she was already a mother, and the youngest verified age of common loon reproduction is 4 years old.

This week’s chick is the 34th that Fe has hatched at Seney since researchers began tracking her at the refuge.

It was born on Tuesday, June 30. A Facebook photo shared by the refuge shows the mother and baby on the water together.

The refuge staff keep the loon couple’s fans updated on social media. In April, they alerted followers that the loon couple had returned to the refuge after overwintering somewhere warm, likely in the southern United States.

“We do not know the life span of a loon, so it has been a joy to watch and see if they come back each year.”

To learn more about Seney’s 95,000-acre refuge, check its website.

This article is adapted from MLive.

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