The oldest documented Common Loons on the planet

PHOTO: ABJ, with his broken upper mandible, in flight over E Pool in July 2023. Picture courtesy of Xiangtong Zhang.

The oldest documented Common Loons on the planet, ABJ and Fe, have again reappeared on Refuge waters. ABJ, who will turn 37 in June, has reoccupied his 2023 E West territory, while Fe (“Fay”), who will be at least 38 this summer, has returned to her domain on I Pool.

After a quarter-century partnership of unparalleled fidelity and productivity, in 2022 ABJ and Fe went their separate ways, with the latter hatching a record 40th chick with a new mate on I Pool, and the former spending a solitary season of bachelordom on nearby H Pool. Following a fleeting April 2023 reconnection on their old F Pool stomping ground, Fe opted for another breeding attempt on I, while ABJ limped back to H with a broken upper mandible that was likely incurred during battle with another male. While it was expected, based upon the prior experiences of Seney loons with snapped bills, that ABJ would undertake solo convalescence on H, he instead skipped over to E West and surprisingly paired with a female, known as Daisy, who was twenty years his junior. ABJ’s nest with Daisy failed to produce chicks, as did Fe’s reproductive effort with an unbanded mate on I Pool.

Early spring is a time of flux for the Refuge loon population, with territorial pairs navigating frequent intrusions from would-be usurpers – the very challenges that ABJ and Fe successfully parried for 25 years. While it is possible that April tumult may lead to the reunion of the Oldest Loons, it is very likely they will initiate their 2024 breeding seasons again apart. Although ABJ has yet been observed only at a distance, it appears that his upper mandible is fully rejuvenated.

Thanks to Common Coast volunteer Dani Fegan and Seney Visitor Services Specialist Jen Wycoff for confirming the return of ABJ and Fe.

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