Guest Post: Can the Common Loon Represent Canada?

As Canadians vote for a national bird, biology instructor Camilla Fecteau weighs in on why the common loon is a frontrunner for the title.

Canadian Geographic, a non-profit publication birthed from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, is hosting a public vote to select Canada’s national bird. Motivated by the country’s other national emblems, such as the maple leaf, Canadian Geographic is taking a stand to declare a national bird with the help of the Canadian community by 2017; voting will be open until the end of 2015.

The publication is calling upon Canadians to vote for the bird that most represents the vast land, notable winters, and the countless diversities of the country, “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth,” embodying the nation’s motto.

Since the polls opened, a leader has emerged: the common loon. The loon, with its iconic call, evokes nostalgia and warm memories of Canada. Camilla Fecteau, lab instructor and coordinator for the Biology Department at Saint Joseph’s College, has a background in ornithology, the study of birds, and has spent time studying common loons.

With a background in ornithology, lab instructor Camilla Fecteau says the common loon is an ideal choice to be Canada's national bird. (Photo by Stefanie Martel '15)

Biology lab instructor Camilla Fecteau says the common loon is a ideal candidate for Canada’s national bird. (Photo by Stefanie Martel ’15)

Fecteau says the common loon is a top runner for Canada’s national bird because “They remind us of the wilderness. Their call elicits a sense of peaceful relaxation that comes with putting down hectic daily activities and taking time to be one with nature. Their haunting wail can be heard for miles across a calm lake, and it reminds us that we’re not the only species trying to make it on this earth.”

Canada is the breeding place for four out of the five global loon species, indicating its suitability for the success of these environmentally sensitive birds.

“Loons can be considered an indicator species,” says Fecteau. “Their presence tells us something very important about the places where they live. In order for loons to successfully nest and reproduce, they need clean bodies of water that are not overly developed, overfished, or overridden with recreational activities.”

Canada has generous amounts of untainted and undeveloped land, which makes almost the entire country a breeding ground for loons. “No other country can claim more habitat for this species,” she says. “It seems very appropriate that they would choose such a beautiful and wild bird as their representative.”

For more, visit the National Bird Project’s website.

About the author: Stefanie Martel ’15 is an editorial intern in Saint Joseph’s College’s Marketing & Communications Office. She is double-majoring in English and writing & publishing, and is earning a minor in communications.

More Info on RecycleMania 2014!


We need your help! Saint Joseph’s College is currently participating in the RecycleMania collegiate recycling competition. Saint Joseph’s campus is in the midst of competing against other college campuses around the US and Canada. The competition is to see which campuses can reuse and recycle the most campus waste!

Remember these are some ways you can help make Saint Joseph’s successful throughout the competition:

  • Use reusable water bottles and use our new refilling station in Alfond Center
  • Use a reusable mug for your coffee at Mercy Market and Brewed Awakenings (and get a 10% discount!)
  • Recycle plastic cups
  • Use double-sided printing
  • Use the backs of papers for scrap paper
  • Compost your waste at Pearson’s Café and Mercy Market
  • Donate unwanted things to Goodwill

Let’s make a difference!


Feel free to leave a comment below with other ways the campus can help make Saint Josephs successful during this competition.

Recyclemania 2014!

recyclemaniaWhat is Recyclemania you may ask? Recyclemania is a 8 week long program that colleges across the U.S. and Canada compete in to see how much they can recycle as a school and how they compare with other participating colleges and universities. Recyclemania currently has 424 colleges and universities participating. In Maine, Bowdoin, Colby, USM, and Saint Joseph’s are taking part in this program. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements about campus-wide recycling competitions taking place over the semester. Go St. Joe’s!

How can you personally make a difference? Here is a list of small tasks you can do to help us reach our goal of a more attainable sustainable campus…and earth!

  • Use reusable water bottles and use our new refilling station in Alfond Center
  • Use a reusable mug for your coffee at Mercy Market and Brewed Awakenings
  • Recycle plastic Red Bull cups
  • Use double-sided printing
  • Use the backs of papers for scrap paper
  • Compost your waste at Pearson’s Café
  • Donate unwanted things to Goodwill


Introducing SJC’s First Water Bottle Filling Station!

water 11

There is a new addition to the Alfond Center! The SJC Eco-Reps earned one of two grants available through the Portland Water District to install a water bottle filling station. It was installed right before we came back from break and has already been put to good use by the campus community. This new filling station has the same look as the original water fountain but with the addition of a motion-activated faucet to more easily fill up a reusable water bottle. This device also includes a counter that records how many one-time use plastic bottles are saved in the process. The Eco-Reps are working to raise money for more station installations around campus. What do you think of our new water bottle filler? Share your thoughts with us in a comment below.