It’s nesting season in Northern Michigan for the beloved common loon.

This article first appeared in Traverse Northern Michigan. Find this story and more when you explore our magazine library. Want Traverse delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

After our inland lakes have thawed, the unofficial bird of the North—the beloved common loon—returns to our waters. By May, loon pairs are ready to settle into last year’s nests, but these regal birds need their space—getting too close can be detrimental to their nesting habits. While loons migrate across the country, they only breed in select areas, including waterways throughout the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula.

Loons are a state-threatened species, making it even more crucial to use what experts call “binocular range” when encountering an active nest. If you see a nesting adult that’s hunkered down, head low to the ground, it’s signaling that you’re too close and it wants to flee. Another sign that you’re intruding: the iconic tremolo call. So next time you’re kayaking and spot a nest, or a newly hatched chick riding atop their parent’s back, keep your distance. If we all respect that springtime boundary, summer will bring even more opportunities for loon family sightings.

Read Next: The Legacy of the Common Loon