Wednesday, April 27, 2016 1:17pm CDT

49 degrees F   Cloudy   Wind ENE 13 mph

Sunrise   6:06 am CDT     Sunset   8:15 pm CDT


Once again it is a cold blustery windy day here in Minnesota.

There was some chilly sunshine this morning but clouds have now moved back in.  There is a prediction of more rain later today and off and on for the rest of the week.

There still have been no loons using the nest.

It was very encouraging when one of the loons was on the nest for 10 minutes back on April 13th.  (Thank you Lee and others for posting video of that while I was in China.  btw, there were four wonderful young people with us on the trip.  Hi to Sam, Isaac, Paula and Jack who said they would be watching the LoonCam!)

It is so good to have so many eyes on the nest documenting everything that happens.

Especially after that extended visit to the nest I am surprised that they have not been back up on it again.  It is obvious from the video that the loon was banded.  But I have not been able to get a good enough look to say definitively what loon it was.  It may have been the female from last year but I am not sure at all.

IF it was her, that explains why she seemed so comfortable getting up on the nest and staying for some time.  It also may be that it is an entirely new male that we have not seen before.  And that that is why he dove excitedly over and over.  He just wasn't sure what to make of the nest.

It has been encouraging to know that they are still on the lake.

And it is encouraging to see them continue to swim by the nest to check it out, even though they have not gotten back up on the nest.

There is still time for them to nest successfully.  So don't despair.  Yet!

Many loons do not nest until even the end of May.

For whatever reason loons have used this nest about a month earlier than many other loons.  I do not have a good explanation for that.

But for us that is a very good thing.  Because we would not be able to do the nest at all if they nested later.  It is not fair to neighbors who limit the use of their own property out of deference to the nesting loons.

So if we go to the middle of May at the latest and they have not nested, I will need to pull the nest in.

In other nests, if the nest fails, eggs do not hatch or chicks die very young, loons will sometimes attempt to renest.  However such second nests have a fairly low success rate.  It gets to be too late in the summer for the chicks to reach maturity and strength to be able to migrate in the fall.  But such attempts do sometimes take place.

So for this year, let us hope that the loons (any loons!) will successfully use the LoonCam nest.

We still have time.

But we are rapidly approaching the time that I would expect to see some - ANY - activity on the nest.  If we do not see some activity, then it becomes more and more likely that the nest may not get used this year.  So keep your fingers - and your toes - crossed in hopes of nesting loons.

You will remember that a few years ago the nest was not used.  That is the only time in all the years I have been doing this that the nest was not used.  But that is also the year that we had a change of mates.

So what will this year bring?

Once again, we can only watch.  



Questions or comments?  Email us at LoonCam at yahoo dot com.  Because of the volume of email I will not be able to respond personally to each email.  But I will eventually read every one and for recurring questions I will try to answer them here in this blog.


Copyright 2016   Larry R Backlund


Sunday, April 24, 2016 8:13 am CDT

55 degrees F   Thunderstorms   Wind  E 7 mph

Sunrise   6:11 am CDT    Sunset   8:11 pm CDT


Thunderstorms are moving through the area right now.

Lightning.  Thunder.  Rain.

Rain which we need.  It has been so dry for the last few weeks.

Minnesota is not like many states out West where rain showers are few and far between and where you can go for months with no rain.  Rain every week is what keeps Minnesota so green.  And what keeps our 10,000 Lakes in good shape.

So when we go several weeks without rain in the spring and summer, that is a long time for us to go without rain.

The rain is also good for the loons and for the plants growing on the loon nest.

Yesterday I planted a purple pansy in memory of Prince who so tragically passed away a couple days ago.

Normally I have had "natural" plants on the nest.  Plants that occur naturally in a loon's habitat.

The irises that I have planted on the nest are reminiscent of the fleur-de-lis that the French voyageurs would plant at portages in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area which preserves the old fur trade routes of the Voyageurs several hundred years ago.  Some of those fleur-de-lis still grow in the Boundary Waters.

On Wednesday night I decided to get some yellow pansies to plant on the nest to give some visual interest to a "gray" nest.  And to give you something to watch while we wait for our loons to decide if they are going to use the nest or not.

Then came the tragic news Thursday morning of Prince's death which seems to have caught the attention and touched the heart strings of the world.  Normally I do not comment on things other than loons here on the LoonCam.  But for some reason after I had planted the yellow pansies it just seemed fitting to plant a 'purple one' as well.

So I went to the local nursery yesterday and got a purple pansy which now joins the yellow ones on the nest, as well as the other plants that are slowly starting to grow.

But I digress.

We are here for LOONS, aren't we?

For those of you who are new or have not followed closely what has happened, let me quickly summarize.

The LoonCam loon nest has been used by loons every year (but one) for well over 10 years.

And we have had phenomenal success with eggs being laid and chicks hatching.

Normally loons use the same nest that they used the year before.  Especially if the nest has been successful.

But last summer tragedy struck as the male from the LoonCam pair of loons washed up on a neighbors shoreline, dead!

We still do not know for sure what killed him.

So that has thrown everything into question for this year's nest.

Will the female from last year come back with a new mate?  Will a new pair of loons take over the nest?  Or will the nest go unused this year?

All of those things are very real possibilities for this year.

There is still a good chance that loons will use the nest this year.  It is still early in the season.  If they have not gotten serious about nesting in the next couple weeks, then there is reason for concern as to whether they will use the nest this year.  But for now there is still great hope that loons will once again use this nest this year.

The good news?

Within the past hour, a pair of loons swam very close to the nest.  The did not try to get up on the nest but they were clearly aware of it and interested in it.

This is pretty typical behavior of loons, especially loons searching for a new nesting area.  

They will check it out numerous times over a period of time.  Seemingly just to see what the area is like and what goes on around it.

Then when they are ready to get serious, things can happen fairly quickly.  They will be up on the nest repeatedly and minor nest building all of a sudden becomes serious and the next thing we know they have laid eggs and settled in for the long haul of incubation.

The fact that this pair of loons is aware of the nest and have checked it out several times is encouraging

Will they eventually use the nest?

I can't answer.

Only the loons know the answer to that question.

But we are privileged to have this intimate look into their world.  To observe them so closely.  To see things that few people have ever had the privilege to see.  To observe their behavior 'up close and personal' without ever disturbing them or changing their natural behavior.

What a privilege that is!

Enjoy it.

And share it with your family and friends.


Questions or comments?  Email us at LoonCam at yahoo dot com.  Because of the volume of email I will not be able to respond personally to each email.  But I will eventually read every one and for recurring questions I will try to answer them here in this blog.


Copyright 2016   Larry R Backlund


Friday, April 22, 2016 2:52 pm CDT

55 degrees F   Sunny   Wind  NE 7 mph

Sunrise  6:14 am CDT     Sunset   8:09 pm CDT


A beautiful Minnesota spring day.

Sunshine.  Blue sky.  Puffy white clouds.  A slight breeze.  Daffodils blooming.  Apricots and cherries in bloom.  Crocuses done blooming.  Forsythia is fading.  Tulips are ready to start blooming.  As are apples and pears.

Trees are beginning to turn green and leaf out.

What a wonderful time of year.  New life all around.

But one thing could make it even better - LOONS!

They are on the lake.  They have visited the nest.

Now we just need them to take ownership of the nest and lay eggs.  

Then all will be right with the world once again.

At this point I am not highly concerned that they have not begun nesting yet.  It is still early in the season.

However, as I have told you in the past I become very paranoid and concerned at this time of year every year.  And most of that is concern that we get YOUR hopes up, we "promise" you loons.  What if the loons don't cooperate?!  ;-)

It is VERY encouraging that they have already checked out the nest.  And have been up ON the nest at least once.

They have told us that they know it is there and that they are interested in it.

Will they be "interested" enough to use it?  There is no way of knowing.  And even if we did know, we have absolutely no control over that.  

So we wait.  


Many of you watched a couple days ago as I went out to the nest to water the plants.  We had not had any rain for well over 2 weeks.  So I figured that the plants on the nest must be bone dry.

I was surprised when I got out there that they were relatively moist.  I think the action of the wind and waves must have been enough to splash water up onto the nest and water the plants 'naturally' even without any rain.

But just to be safe, I still watered the plants and the entire nest.

I also replaced a little of the nesting material that had washed away, but overall the nest seemed to be in very good condition.  In light of the reports that I got that there had been 50 mph winds while I was in China, I think it held together quite well.

Maybe this afternoon I will go back out there if the loons are not in sight and plant a couple more plants.  I had wanted to put them out when I put the nest out but the ones that I had dies over the winter and no garden stores had any available that early yet.

I just realized I should maybe have gotten a purple plant in honor of Prince! Or the Vikings. 

It has been encouraging to hear calls from loons on the lake, especially at night.  So they are still here.  And there is still hope that they will nest.

But as I have said before, because of the death of the male last summer this year will be very interesting and educational.  Will the female come back with a new mate?  Will a new pair use the nest?  Will the nest go unused this year?

All of those things are possible.

However, in over a decade of doing this there is only one year that the loons have not used the nest.  That was just a couple years ago when for some unexplained reason we had a change of mates.

Every other year the loons have used the nest ever since I built it and first put it out.

That alone is phenomenal.  From figures I saw a few years ago, only 60% of artificial nesting platforms ever get used.  So to have the kind of success that we have had with this nest is very unusual and very gratifying.

I will not be very concerned that they have not nested until we get into the first week of May at least.  Even the first week of May will be fairly normal for nesting on this nest.

So settle back and watch.  Let us all learn together.  Try to keep your concern and blood pressure down and I will try to do the same.  Let us all be amazed together.


Copyright 2016  Larry R Backlund


Monday, April 18, 2016 10:22 pm CDT

69 degrees F   Cloudy   Wind NE 12 mph

Sunrise   6:21 am CDT     Sunset   8:03 pm CDT


The last few days have been 'mid-summer' days, not spring days of April.  High temperatures have been in the 80s.

I have just returned from a couple weeks in China.  So I have no idea right now what time zone I am in!

Thank you to all of you who have so faithfully watched and documented what has been going on with the LoonCam.

I see that it was down a couple times while I was gone.  But thanks to the good folks at BroadBand who I assume are the ones who got it restarted.

I have seen at least one pair of loons on the lake and one single loon.  That is encouraging that they are on the lake.

I appreciate knowing that a pair of loons has been up to and even on the nest at least one time.  That is also VERY encouraging.

For those of you who may not have followed the LoonCam closely in the past or may have forgotten, in August last summer we had tragedy strike.

The male from the LoonCam last year washed up on shore dead!

We still do not know the cause but hopefully by the end of this summer researchers will have been able to determine the cause of death.  When and if I hear anything results of the necropsy, I will let you know.

I do not know what killed him.  One of the neighbors thinks it was an eagle.  I don't know that for sure but I will give you his reasoning some other time.

If the male had survived, I would fully expect that he and his mate would return and use the nest again this year.  They laid two eggs last year and hatched one chick that survived.  

The second egg apparently was infertile.  That unhatched egg will be a part of a major study at the University of Connecticut to monitor impacts of the Gulf Oil Spill.

But with the death of the male, everything is up in the air and this will be a VERY interesting year to watch to see what happens.

Will the female from last year return with a new mate?

Will another pair use the nest this year?

Or will the nest go unused this year?

There are so many things that we do not know and cannot predict.  And we have no control over any of them.

The nest is there ready to be used.  But will the loons use it?  We can only wait and wonder.

There has been no rain here during the more than 2 weeks I was gone.  So everything is very dry and we need rain.

I am sure the nest and the plants on it are very dry with the lack of rain and very warm days.  There was 2 inches of snow on the nest when I left for the airport at 2 in the morning a couple weeks ago this last Saturday.  But that is the last time apparently that the nest got any water.

We have rain in the area tonight and it it forecast to rain here as well.  But so far there is nothing.

If we do not get any rain in the next day or two, I will probably try to go out to the nest to water  the plants.  

I also want to check everything else on the nest.  From what I can see on the cam, it seems to be holding together quite well so far.  I am told that we had some very high winds while we were gone.  There were a lot of dead branches down and heavy lawn furniture tipped over.  So it must have been pretty high winds.

It is always a challenge to build the nest so that all the nesting material doesn't blow off in high winds or wash off in high waves.  So far it seems to be intact.

But if the loons are not around it will give me a chance to check on the anchors and everything else on the nest.

There is no reason to be concerned that the loons are not using the nest yet.  We still have plenty of time.  But I along with you always am concerned until they actually take up residency.  The fact that one pair has already checked out the nest is a good sign.

So now we wait.

But it is time for you to tell your friends and family and neighbors to start watching.  And especially for you to tell your kid's and grandkid's teachers about the LoonCam.  It is one of the most phenomenal educational tools for teachers to use with their students.

The SHOW is about to begin!  And it is much better than anything on tv.  And we have NO idea what the script will hold for this year.

And you don't want to miss a minute of it.


Copyright 2016  Larry R Backlund


Friday, April 1, 2016 5:40 pm CDT

39 degrees   Sunny   Wind NNW 20 mph

Sunrise   6:52 pm CDT Sunset 7:52 pm CDT



The LoonCam is LIVE for 2016!!

There is a cold cold wind out of the north that sweeps across the lake.  White caps dot the surface of the lake.  And waves roll in.

The LoonCam nest is bouncing on the waves.

There were even a few snow flurries earlier this morning!

But the important thing is that the nest is out on the water and ready for loons to occupy it.

The water is bitterly cold.  And when you factor in the strong frigid wind, it was not a pleasant day to be working on the nest or in the water.

I had to come up to the house several times to dry off and thaw out.  But it had to get done today because I will have very limited access to work on the nest, the cam or the blog for the next couple weeks.

But it is out there and ready for the loons ... and YOU!

It will be SO interesting to see what happens this year.

For those of you who may be new to the LoonCam or who have not  been able to follow closely, last year the nest was used by the same pair of loons that has used it for several years. But then in August last year, the male loon from the LoonCam washed up on shore dead.

We still do not know how or why he died.  Hopefully we will learn soon the results of tests being done to determine the cause of his death.

But with the male gone it will be interesting to see what happens.  Will the female come back with a new mate?  Will a new pair of loons take over the nest?  Will the nest go unused?

We will only know what will happen by watching to see what happens.

We have done everything we can to provide the nest.  Now it is up to the loons whether or not they will use it!

Stay tuned.  And keep watching.


Copyright  2016   Larry R Backlund