A Sebago Lake group of residents is determined to have the lake’s loons included in this year’s annual Maine Audubon loon count, which takes place from 7-7:30 a.m. Saturday, July 16.

Sebago Lake has been noticeably missing from Audubon’s past statewide surveys, according to resident Brad McCurtain who is coordinating the Sebago Lake count. That’s because making a comprehensive count of Common Loons on New England’s third largest lake presents challenges, not the least of which is its 50 designated survey areas, he said. Each needs to be counted for the lake to be included in the official state count.

If the residents are successful in covering the entire lake during the half-hour period next week, it will mark the first full count of Sebago lake’s loon population.

Valuable data about the lake’s loon population has been lost over the years by not having yearly, full lake counts, McCurtain said. Information from Audubon’s counts helps biologists, state officials and lake users understand more about the loons’ status and the health of Maine’s lakes.

“We met with Maine Audubon, got a grasp of the issues and looked at this as a solvable problem,” he said. “The result is that, what began with a half-dozen, has quickly grown to dozens of counters, spanning seven communities. Nearly all of the lake’s 30,000 acres and 100 miles of shoreland are now covered and ready to be counted.”

In addition to individual volunteers, the group has attracted support from summer camps, lake associations, area churches, Saint Joseph’s College and the Portland Water District. Engaging people and entities together was intentional to create a sustainable model and help assure that future year counts continue to occur, McCurtain said.

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The project goes beyond counting the lake’s loons, he said.

“This is something to hold up as a model for how people and organizations, without much in common, can come together amicably and get something good and lasting done beyond the borders of their own community,” he said.

A handful of additional volunteers is still needed to cover the remaining survey areas. For more information, email [email protected]

Last year’s count estimated a population of 3,446 adult common loons and 224 chicks for the southern half of Maine, according to Maine Audubon.