National Loon Center StewardShip in Crosslake serves 439 people in 2022

Program got people up close and personal while learning about loons.

Adult Common Loon starting transition to winter plumage on Cross Lake.png
An adult common loon on Cross Lake is beginning to transition into its seasonal plumage ahead of the 2022 winter.
We are part of The Trust Project.

CROSSLAKE — The changing of leaves and cooling temperatures are a sign of more than just the onset of autumn; they alert lake's area residents the loons on northern lakes will soon leave for warmer waters down south. The fall migration of loons was a key topic aboard the National Loon Center’s StewardShip during the final weeks of its public excursions on Cross Lake, which ran until Sept. 24. Starting at the end of August, passengers aboard the boat observed the change in the adult loons’ appearance as they began their transition into their winter plumage.

The free public tours ran from July 21 to Sept. 24. A private workshop, “Minnesota Loons & Freshwater Ecosystem”, led by the NLC and Northern Waters Land Trust on July 13 was the first time any members of the public came on board. The last excursion of the season was on Sept. 29 with 14 high schools students joining from Isle School District as part of their Wildlife & Natural Resources class. Other private groups included attendees of Camp Knutson, various lake associations, Wounded Warriors, and Crosslake Community School teachers for water-based training through the DNR’s Project WET. In total, the StewardShip went on the water for 23 public excursions and 14 private tours, for a total of 37 trips on Cross Lake. These trips amounted to 439 people who participated in this hands-on learning experience.

Banded Common Loon rejoining mate and chicks on Cross Lake.png
A banded common loon rejoins its mate and chicks on Cross Lake while the StewardShip observes during the 2022 summer program.

“We were thrilled to see the StewardShip run so successfully in its inaugural season,” said Executive Director Jon Mobeck. “It was immensely popular and the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive with respect to the educational value of the tour.”

For many people, this was their first opportunity to observe the Minnesota state bird in such a close and scientific manner. An on-board naturalist, either one of the three NLC staff members or a volunteer MN Master Naturalist, led the tours and provided insightful information on the loons’ behavior. An important takeaway of the program was the connection between the loon population and the quality of freshwater lakes. The tour typically ended at a designated water clarity testing location where participants had the opportunity to measure the transparency of the water using a secchi disk. This data will be submitted to the Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program through the MPCA to add to a state-wide database of water quality testing. This type of on-the-water learning is unique to the northwoods and is something the National Loon Center was proud to offer free of charge to the public.

Read more local area news
Windchill advisory is in effect until noon Monday, Jan. 30, for much of the state
The cost is $50 per plate for Providence Community Church event at the Gathering Event Center
Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby shares Pequot Lakes, Pine River couples' births
Lee and Penny Anderson are well known for their involvement in area communities
The temperature hovered right around zero degrees throughout the afternoon.

Since its launch on July 21 to its last outing, the StewardShip watched the loon chicks on Cross Lake grow over the course of the summer, from the tender moments when the parents would feed the young chicks small fish to the exciting first practice flights of the near fledgling juveniles. Some participants on board witnessed more exhilarating events such as the territorial fight between the new resident male of the “Happy Bay” territory and an intruder loon. All passengers had the opportunity to use the provided binoculars to identify individual loons via the colored bands on their legs. Banding loons is a key component of the National Loon Center’s research on common loons, begun in 2021. Through this study, the NLC has identified eight loon territories on Cross Lake. Five of these resident loon pairs were regularly seen along the StewardShip’s 2-hour route, with three pairs having two chicks. A sixth loon pair was often seen that had nested on the channel to Daggett Lake and brought its chick onto Cross Lake as it grew older.


The 31’ tritoon boat was acquired in 2021 via a $40,000 grant from the Crosslake Ideal Lions Club. It was renamed the StewardShip from the Floating Classroom in early 2022 by the volunteer committee, the Northern Lakes Initiative. Safety equipment, life jackets, and educational materials including water testing materials were purchased via a $4,000 grant from the Land & Waters Preservation Trust. In the spring of 2022, the NLC received an additional $5,000 grant from the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund to help support the launch of the program for its first season.

StewardShip embarks from bay at Cross Lake Recreation Area.png
In the summer of 2022 the StewardShip escorted 439 passengers on a journey to observe and learn about the common loon.

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 NLC’s world-class facility is slated to open to the public in 2024 and will be an interactive and family-friendly educational destination. To support the National Loon Center’s mission, please visit

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "Pineandlakes Echo Journal." Often, the "Pineandlakes Echo Journal" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.

Send us your news or story ideas by emailing or calling 218-855-5877. Be sure to leave a message!
What To Read Next
Take a look at just some of what was on the Echo Journal's e-paper pages in the last week at
Craig Wadzink has been volunteering since 2018
Group enjoys the outdoors throughout winter season
A look at police reports in the northern Brainerd lakes area - Cass and Crow Wing counties.