Loon Research Ambassador Program 2022

In the spring of 2021, we began a long-term research study of the Minnesota common loon population. This research is led by National Loon Center scientist, Dr. Walter Piper, who has studied a population of 120 breeding loon pairs in northern Wisconsin since 1993. In an effort to replicate that study in Minnesota, we invite you to join us in expanding nationally significant research in 2022.

In the first research season, Dr. Piper’s team surveyed approximately 60 Minnesota lakes and identified 105 breeding loon pairs. Essential to the research is marking individuals with colored leg bands. A total of 78 loons, including adults and juveniles, were banded. These efforts brought us to about a third of the way to having a fully banded study population.

For the 2022 breeding season we are offering a brand new opportunity for our community members to support this critical loon research. As members of the Loon Research Ambassador Program, you’ll sponsor one of the 48 adult loons banded in the very first season of the study. You’ll also enjoy several benefits and opportunities to become involved in the science this summer.

Participants have the opportunity to become a Research Ambassador at three different tiers, described below:

Ambassador Levels


  • 2022 sponsorship level: $1,000
  • Guardians select an individual adult loon with a unique color band set (one loon per sponsor)
  • Sponsorship lasts for duration of breeding season (April-November)
  • Registration open for 2022


  • Certificate of the sponsorship of a loon banded in 2021 displaying the loon’s bio and unique bands
    • If desired, can name the loon (for display on certificate)
  • Emails when the loon is resighted and reaches milestones such as laying eggs, hatching chicks, etc.
  • In-person welcome event into the Loon Champion Sponsorship with NLC staff (May 27, 2022)
  • Meet & Greet with NLC Scientist, Dr. Walter Piper (May 27, 2022)
  • Advanced communication on the progress of the research study prior to any public release
  • Private loon watching tour with NLC staff 
  • Recognition on the research display at The Nest


  • 2022 sponsorship level: $2,500
  • Champions select an individual adult loon with a unique color band set (one loon per sponsor)
  • Sponsorship lasts for duration of breeding season (April-November)
  • Registration open for 2022


All of the benefits listed under Loon Guardian plus:

  • Opportunity to accompany research team for an exclusive research experience observing the loon banding process (limited to first 10 Loon Champion to accommodate the availability of the research team).
  • Special recognition on a Loon Research Ambassador plaque at the NLC facility to open in 2024

The National Loon Center cannot guarantee the return to the breeding grounds, resighting, or survival of individual common loons. Loon Champions and Guardians understand these birds are wild animals subject to naturally unpredictable lives.


  • Unlimited symbolic Loon Sponsorship opportunities available at $25
  • Registration open March-November 2022


  • Special edition Loon Research Ambassador sticker
  • Elegant premium glossy 8.5″ x 11″ Loon Research Ambassador certificate

The Research Lakes

Dr. Piper’s team began the research study by surveying the Whitefish Chain of Lakes near Crosslake, Minnesota for breeding loon pairs. They found 48 on the Chain alone! Their surveying efforts continued with smaller lakes adjacent to Whitefish, including Ossawinamakee, Roosevelt, Eagle, Emily, Big Pine, East and West Fox, and Sibley.

Loon Champions and Guardians can request to sponsor a loon that was banded on a specific lake (upon availability), though it is not guaranteed that the loon will return to or breed on that lake.


May 2022

Loon Champions and Guardians attend the welcome event and Meet & Greet with Dr. Piper

July/August 2022

Loon Champions accompany the research team members for exclusive scientific experience

August 2022

Private loon watching tour with National Loon Center staff for Loon Champions and Guardians

Please direct any questions about the Loon Research Ambassador Program to natasha@nationallooncenter.org