Two Oldest Common Loons in the World are Here in Michigan
The two oldest Common Loons in the entire world can be found in a National Wildlife Refuge right here in Michigan and have a love story all their own.
The two oldest Common Loons are a couple who are celebrating their 25th Anniversary as a couple. The male, known as 'ABJ', was banded as a chick in 1987 at Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Michigan's Northern Penninsula. Seney is home to the oldest long-term Common Loon banding program, according to the National Audubon Society. Because ABJ was banded that first year, researchers know that his exact age of 34.
ABJ's mate is the other oldest Common Loon in the world. She is known as 'Fe'. She was also banded at Seney but as an adult. Fe is believed to be at least 35-years-old. The couple, who celebrate their Silver Anniversary this year, return to the northern Michigan refuge every year.
Researchers know more about the Common Loon thanks to Seney's long-term banding program. Biologists know that in the Fall of 1987, ABJ and the other chicks banded that year made the 3,000-mile trip to the Atlantic Ocean along the coast of Florida. Those chicks then stayed in the Florida area for three years so they could mature before returning inland to breed as adults.
ABJ and Fe's Love Story
When a male loon returns inland to breed, it first needs to find a mate and carve out its own territory, which it will aggressively defend from other loons, according to the National Audubon Society.
ABJ was a bit of a late bloomer. It wasn't until his 10th year returning to Seney in 1997 that he began to carve out his own territory. After spotting Fe, who was already successfully raising a set of chicks with her previous mate, known as Dewlap. ABJ, who had floundered until that point, challenged Dewlap to battle. ABJ successfully won and evicted his opponent and took over the territory with Fe.
Each year the couple returns to and has to defend their territory. What makes their love story unique is that Common Loons will generally stay together for several seasons, they do not generally stay together indefinitely as these two have.
ABJ and Fe have successfully raised 29 chicks, above average for Common Loons but not surprising given their love story.