By Carol Stiffler

The oldest known loons in the world – who also hap­pen to be an exclusive cou­ple – have returned to the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, to the delight of their fans around the world.

ABJ, 35, and Fe, 36, win­tered in Florida and have re­turned with “bright, shiny breeding plumage,” said Damon McCormick, co-di­rector of Common Coast, a non-profit that works with loons and other Michigan birds, particularly in the Upper Peninsula.

ABJ and Fe have been paired for 26 years and have successfully hatched 32 off­spring – the most ever recorded for one pair.

They have played it coy so far this spring, and as of Tuesday had not yet been confirmed to have been in each other’s presence.

“We probably just caught them before they united,” McCormick said. “There’s no reason to necessarily think there is a problem.”

As the oldest known loons, however, one thing is for sure: They are old. At some point, breeding rates are bound to go down. For unknown reasons, the pair did not successfully hatch a chick last year, despite try­ing twice.

“We will have a follow-up in a week or two, confirm­ing if they’ve had a shock divorce or re-paired,”