A Common Loon adjusts her eggs at her nest in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. Canada and the northern part of lower 48 states offer ideal habitat for these birds. Unknown by many, Wyoming holds a small isolated loon population that is at the centre of cutting edge conservation research. Wyoming loons are being studied by the Biodiversity Research Institute, and compared against populations in British Columbia, and elsewhere in the United States.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

A Common Loon adjusts her eggs at her nest in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. Canada and the northern part of lower 48 states offer ideal habitat for these birds. Unknown by many, Wyoming holds a small isolated loon population that is at the centre of cutting edge conservation research. Wyoming loons are being studied by the Biodiversity Research Institute, and compared against populations in British Columbia, and elsewhere in the United States. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 This story was shot on assignment for Audubon Magazine in June 2014, and appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.

This story was shot on assignment for Audubon Magazine in June 2014, and appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.

 Biodiversity Research Institute director Dave Evers (left) and Joe Ricketts (right) pose beside a Common Loon diorama, donated by Joe Ricketts, to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department regional office in Jackson. Joe Ricketts donated $6.5 million to fund conservation efforts towards the Common Loon.   In June 2014, I spent two days in Wyoming photographing these conservation efforts for an Audubon Magazine story.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

Biodiversity Research Institute director Dave Evers (left) and Joe Ricketts (right) pose beside a Common Loon diorama, donated by Joe Ricketts, to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department regional office in Jackson. Joe Ricketts donated $6.5 million to fund conservation efforts towards the Common Loon. 

In June 2014, I spent two days in Wyoming photographing these conservation efforts for an Audubon Magazine story. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 A group shot of the Biodiversity Research Institute field biologists in Grand Teton National Park, USA. From left to right: Allison Byrd, Vincent Spagnuolo, Carl Brown, Nick Rosenberger, Chris Persico, Michelle Kneeland, and Jeff Fair. This team is focusing their efforts in Wyoming, Montana, Washington, British Columbia, and the eastern USA.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

A group shot of the Biodiversity Research Institute field biologists in Grand Teton National Park, USA. From left to right: Allison Byrd, Vincent Spagnuolo, Carl Brown, Nick Rosenberger, Chris Persico, Michelle Kneeland, and Jeff Fair. This team is focusing their efforts in Wyoming, Montana, Washington, British Columbia, and the eastern USA. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Michelle Kneeland sets a submerged mist net for a loon capture.  Image ©Connor Stefanison

Michelle Kneeland sets a submerged mist net for a loon capture.

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Vincent Spagnuolo (left), Chris Persico (Middle), and Scott Mcmillion (right) hide behind camouflage while waiting for a loon to approach a decoy that is located above the capture net.  Image ©Connor Stefanison

Vincent Spagnuolo (left), Chris Persico (Middle), and Scott Mcmillion (right) hide behind camouflage while waiting for a loon to approach a decoy that is located above the capture net.

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 While hiding behind bushes and camouflauge, a Common Loon makes its first appearance after being attracted to a playback call and decoy.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

While hiding behind bushes and camouflauge, a Common Loon makes its first appearance after being attracted to a playback call and decoy. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Chris Persico (left) and Nick Rosenberger (right) pack up a loon capture mist net after an unsuccessful attempt.  Image ©Connor Stefanison

Chris Persico (left) and Nick Rosenberger (right) pack up a loon capture mist net after an unsuccessful attempt.

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 A Common Loon feeds its chick a dragonfly at a lake in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. The future goal of the Biodiversity Research Institute is to be able to transport loon chicks from places like Canada and the eastern USA, to select habitats in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

A Common Loon feeds its chick a dragonfly at a lake in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. The future goal of the Biodiversity Research Institute is to be able to transport loon chicks from places like Canada and the eastern USA, to select habitats in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 

 Common Loons are active at night, when they often produce their haunting calls that have made them such an iconic species.   Taken in the interior of British Columbia, Canada.   Image ©Connor Stefanison 

Common Loons are active at night, when they often produce their haunting calls that have made them such an iconic species. 

Taken in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison 

 After a second attempt at a different lake, a new loon approaches the decoy. With only a dozen or so pairs of Common Loons in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, every capture attempt is crucial in learning about this small population.  Image ©Connor Stefanison 

After a second attempt at a different lake, a new loon approaches the decoy. With only a dozen or so pairs of Common Loons in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, every capture attempt is crucial in learning about this small population.

Image ©Connor Stefanison 

 A Common Loon (rear) approaches a loon decoy (front) above a capture net. Once above the capture net, one researcher will suddenly jump up and clap. Doing this scares the loon and causes it to dive down into the net.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

A Common Loon (rear) approaches a loon decoy (front) above a capture net. Once above the capture net, one researcher will suddenly jump up and clap. Doing this scares the loon and causes it to dive down into the net. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Biodiversity Research Institute scientists work to release a common loon from a capture net, so they can bring it to land to begin sampling procedures.   Image © Connor Stefanison

Biodiversity Research Institute scientists work to release a common loon from a capture net, so they can bring it to land to begin sampling procedures. 

Image © Connor Stefanison

 Michelle Kneeland (left), Chris Persico (middle), and Vincent Spagnuolo (right) commence removing and detangling a loon from a capture net. Vincent is covering the loon's head with a towel to help keep it calm and safe.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

Michelle Kneeland (left), Chris Persico (middle), and Vincent Spagnuolo (right) commence removing and detangling a loon from a capture net. Vincent is covering the loon's head with a towel to help keep it calm and safe. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Michelle Kneeland carries the loon decoys back to shore, while other Biodiversity Research Institute crew members (background) help release a real common loon from the capture net.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

Michelle Kneeland carries the loon decoys back to shore, while other Biodiversity Research Institute crew members (background) help release a real common loon from the capture net. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Chris Persico (right) and Vincent Spagnuolo (left) work to release a common loon from a capture net, so they can bring it to land to begin sampling procedures.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

Chris Persico (right) and Vincent Spagnuolo (left) work to release a common loon from a capture net, so they can bring it to land to begin sampling procedures. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 When handling a Common Loon, its head is held to keep it calm and prevent it from injuring itself.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

When handling a Common Loon, its head is held to keep it calm and prevent it from injuring itself. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Carl Brown holds a common loon while other crew members prepare to begin sampling procedures.    Image ©Connor Stefanison

Carl Brown holds a common loon while other crew members prepare to begin sampling procedures.  

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Carl Brown (left), Chris Persico (middle) and Michelle Kneeland (right) take blood samples of a common loon. These blood samples are used to measure many things, one of which being heavy metal contaminants. Blood sample results are then compared across North American Common Loon populations.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

Carl Brown (left), Chris Persico (middle) and Michelle Kneeland (right) take blood samples of a common loon. These blood samples are used to measure many things, one of which being heavy metal contaminants. Blood sample results are then compared across North American Common Loon populations. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Allison Byrd takes beak measurements on a Common Loon so that they can compare sizes across populations.  Image ©Connor Stefanison

Allison Byrd takes beak measurements on a Common Loon so that they can compare sizes across populations.

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Carl Brown carefully holds a Common Loon, while sampling procedures take place.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

Carl Brown carefully holds a Common Loon, while sampling procedures take place. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 Chris Persico releases a Common Loon back into the wild, where it quickly returned to its mate. From capture to release, the entire procedure only takes around twenty minutes.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

Chris Persico releases a Common Loon back into the wild, where it quickly returned to its mate. From capture to release, the entire procedure only takes around twenty minutes. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison

 After the Biodiversity Research Institute completes their long-term study, it is hoped that many lakes in Wyoming will have scenes such as this one in British Columbia, for many generations to come.   Image ©Connor Stefanison

After the Biodiversity Research Institute completes their long-term study, it is hoped that many lakes in Wyoming will have scenes such as this one in British Columbia, for many generations to come. 

Image ©Connor Stefanison