Loon Update

It is dawn on a northern lake and the sound of loons calling echos across the lake. The water is like a sheet of glass reflecting the trees around the lake. Here and there are wisps of fog drifting back and forth.

The first rays of the sun paint the windows of a cabin on the opposite shore of the lake a blazing crimson gold.

All four loons - the two adults and the two 'babies' - are swimming nearby, just off to the left. They hardly qualify as 'babies' anymore though. They are almost exactly the same size as the adults, maybe just a slight bit smaller.

Both of the young are diving repeatedly, having now obviously perfected catching fish on their own and they are busily feeding.

It is gratifying to see all four of the loons together, still healthy, thriving and surviving.

Now it becomes almost a foregone conclusion that they will survive to fly south this fall barring some sort of unforeseen catastrophe. They still have to survive a lot of summer boat traffic and the possibility is that they could get hit by an unobservant boater. But with their diving skills now perfected, that also becomes less and less likely.

The adults keep calling. Then I see the reason.

Over along the far shore of the lake, an eagle is flying back and forth. He is also looking for a meal in the early morning sunlight. But the loons do not like that he is even there. And so they call. It is not an alarm call. It is just the normal 'wail'. But it is very apparent that they have seen the eagle and they do not like it.

For now, the loons have the lake to themselves. There are no fishermen yet out on the lake. The loons are the only 'fishermen' on the lake and they are masters of their craft!

The days of summer wind down so rapidly. The call of the loon will become less and less as they become less territorial and the need to defend their chicks decreases. Soon it will be time for them to fly south. And another season will be history.

But this season has once again been very successful with two chicks hatched and two chicks still surviving.

When the young fly south in October or November, they will not come this way again for probably three years!

For you see, one of the many things that is so unique about loons is that when the young fly south for the first time this fall, they will stay on the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Coast for the next three years before they once again return to Minnesota. And then not only will they return to Minnesota, they will also supposedly return to the SAME LAKE that they were born on.

Every time I think about the miracle of that, I think, "I don't know how you do it, but God, you done good!!!!"