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National Loon Center Loon Calling Contest sounds wild

The third annual National Loon Center Loon Calling Contest will take place Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at the Crosslake Town Square during the annual Crosslake Days. The contest is a celebration of the wildlife and sounds iconic to the north woods, according to organizers.

A loon swims around Rice Lake on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at Lum Park in Brainerd.
A loon swims around Rice Lake on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at Lum Park in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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CROSSLAKE — Feeling a little looney? Head on over to the National Loon Center Loon Calling Contest during Crosslake Days.

The third annual contest will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Crosslake Town Square gazebo near The Nest, the loon center’s temporary information center at 14303 Gould St.

“The contest will be very similar to last year — maybe hoping to just draw in more people this year and maybe more people from across the state,” said Natasha Bartolotta, communications and outreach coordinator of the Crosslake-based National Loon Center.

Loon nesting on Lake Hubert
A loon chick, born Tuesday, June 14, 2022, follows its parent into a bay on Lake Hubert. The other adult loon was still sitting on the remaining egg which hatched Wednesday, June 15, 2022. The family is now swimming in the bay on Lake Hubert beginning a new life with two chicks.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

The center is calling all loon lovers to try their hand at imitating the hoot, the tremolo, the yodel, and the wail — four of the most well-known calls heard on northern lakes in the summer — according to the nonprofit that aims to be an interactive educational destination.

“I would say a lot of people are surprised to learn how many different vocalizations of loons there are and how there are several that we probably haven't defined or have a name for yet,” Bartolotta said Wednesday.

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Bryan Pike holds a gift bag and an award certificate as the first-place winner in the adult age category of the 2021 National Loon Center Loon Calling Contest in Crosslake.
Bryan Pike holds a gift bag and an award certificate as the first-place winner in the adult age category of the 2021 National Loon Center Loon Calling Contest in Crosslake.
Contributed / National Loon Center

The contest is a celebration of the wildlife and sounds iconic to the north woods with winners in the 13 and older age group and the 12 and younger group receiving National Loon Center merchandise as prizes.

To register for the contest, stop into The Nest between 1-3 p.m. on the day of the event. Haven’t perfected the call yet? Spectators are welcome to join the fun and watch the contest during Crosslake Days. For a full schedule of Crosslake Days events, visit https://bit.ly/3xNgWka .

“People usually hear the most iconic one — the haunting call of the loon — which is the wail, which is that one- to three-note call that can travel across the lake, often you could hear it at night during choruses of the loons,” Bartolotta said.

The wail is a long-range contact call between pairs of loons or a warning of mild alarm, according to the National Loon Center, whereas the tremolo is a warning call used at short range and is also used in flight that resembles human laughter.

“That second one that we often hear is one that we unintentionally cause as people because it's a short-range alarm call, and the loons will give that at close range, so if a predator or another intruding loon or a boat or a human approaches too closely, they’ll give out that call,” she said.

The hoot is a contact call usually used by pairs while swimming or foraging while the yodel is a territorial call given off only by male loons to defend their territory and chicks.

To learn more about the four different loon calls or to practice imitating them for Saturday’s contest in Crosslake, visit nationallooncenter.org/about-loons .

Judges will include National Loon Center staff and prizes will be awarded to the winners of the two age groups in the center’s loon calling contest. But the center will also be a first-time competitor in the annual Crosslake Days Chili Cook-Off.

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Free chili sampling begins at noon Saturday and will last until 3 p.m. (or until the chili runs out). Vote for the People's Choice Award by downloading the Crosslake app at crosslake.com/mobile .

MORE ARTICLES BY FRANK LEE:
The Croft Mine Community Committee, elected officials, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources representatives and others met Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, at the Croft Mine Historical Park to discuss possibly restoring and reopening the Crosby landmark as a tourist attraction.

Lovers of art and loons may also bid on art pieces during the Wildlife Art Silent Auction 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Nest. Participants may place bids throughout the day or buy the items outright. Proceeds support the National Loon Center.

The National Loon Center aims to restore and protect loon-breeding habitats, enhance responsible recreation and serve as a national leader in advancing loon and freshwater research. The center’s world-class facility is slated to open to the public in 2024.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .

Related Topics: CROSSLAKECROSSLAKE DAYSNATIONAL LOON CENTERTHINGS TO DO
I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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