Botulism is on the rise in the Great Lakes and loons are paying the price. According to the Detroit Free Press, nearly 300 birds have succumbed to the outbreak along Lake Michigan in the last month, and the vast majority are common loons that migrate through the area.
Botulism is an annual problem in the Great Lakes, but this year's outbreak is more severe than normal. One of the birds confirmed dead was the area's oldest banded loon, a male named Patriarch that hatched in 1991. He had been rebanded in 2010 and could have fathered another 30 years worth of chicks.
Anyone who finds a dead loon is asked to report their sightings, and the dead birds should not be handled.
Photo © nigel