Michigan Loons - Lake Ausable, Michigan

Summer, 2012



Photographer J. Brian Sullivan was with his family at the back part of Lake Ausable, near the loon nesting area when he captured some remarkable video and photos. Two loons were fighting and a third was reacting very strongly.  


At first he and his family assumed it was two males fighting over a female. But, with the help of Lake Ausable Loon Ranger Chris Otto, we were able to get an expert opinion as to what was going on. His explanation is below.


To view the photos and video, click HERE. You will be prompted for a password. It is: Sullivan. This password is case sensitive. When viewing the videos, you have options for different sizes. The WEB size seems to offer the best viewing.




Here are the comments from Jeff Lange, Michigan Loonwatch Coordinator & Wildlife Filmmaker

Visit his Environment Blog and Nature Video clips at:




(It has been suggested that this video shows two males fighting over a female.) I have a different take on the participants involved. The loon doing the yodel call in the first and last clips has to be the male, since only males utter the yodel. He is also the bystander. The two fighting are the resident female and an intruder, very likely her daughter from some years back (offspring often challenge one or the other parent to claim the territory they grew up on. And yes, if the intruding female wins, the male and his victorious daughter become the new pair. A taboo in our culture, but not uncommon among some other animals.

Also, I've watched a lot of loons fighting in my time, and the loons on the surface almost always peer their heads underwater when others (particularly intruders) are submerged. This is to guard against attack from below. This is exactly how loons attack other waterfowl unfortunate enough to wander into their territory and a common method of attack against other loons. The soft abdomen makes a very vulnerable target...a fact loons know all too well.


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