Loon Chorus

Yesterday we set out from Cheboygan, Michigan for Drummond Island—some 30 nautical miles across the western reaches of Lake Huron. After a lovely sail in 15-20 knot winds with a port reach, we dropped anchor in a broad cove deep into Whitney Bay. Homes and cabins can be seen in the otherwise tree-lined shore, but we were greeted by a chorus of loons. Off toward the eastern shore we spotted a family of loons. The parents were taking turns diving and feeding two chicks. They were too far off to get any photos, but we watched the process through binoculars.

We also watched a deer nursing her fawn as she grazed along the south shore.


Julie was startled by a loud, unfamiliar ratcheting noise—something like a harsh-sounding guiro, that Caribbean rhythm instrument where a stick is grated across the corrugated surface of a hollow gourd. The noise was familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it. Then a pair of large grey/brown birds landed near the doe and fawn: Sandhill Cranes. Julie had never heard their raucous calls before and my only connection was from a Montana pack trip when we were all ordered to dismount because the calls of Sandhill Cranes were known to startle horses and mules. We watched the cranes fish along the shore for a while, then were diverted by more hoots and yodels from the loon family and some other unseen loons.

The loon calls continued sporadically through the night—sometimes erupting into full-blown symphonies. They’re still at this morning. These loons on Drummond Island are the most vocal and melodic Julie and I have ever heard. We think they are serenading our loon-named boat, Gaviidae.

Loon Family – Photography by Neil King (Julie’s Brother-in-Law)

July 9, 2018 Whitney Bay, Drummond Island MI     45°58.323’N   83°50.465’W   279.86 Nautical Miles


Like what you read? Leave us a comment! Your name and/or email will never be used for commercial purposes.