Thursday, May 14, 2009 6:23am

41 degrees   Partly Cloudy   Wind  W 20mph

On a very windy and chilly morning, the nest bounces up and down on the waves but the loon stays firmly rooted to the nest.  Underneath it are its two precious eggs.  The very reason that they have given everything.  To raise the next generation of loons.

White caps roll across the lake as clouds go scudding by overhead.

This is no time to go swimming off because the loon is tired of sitting on the nest.  If it did, the eggs would rapidly cool in the chilly morning air and wind.  And the chick inside would probably die.  Or the egg might actually roll off the nest into the cold water although the loon has carefully crafted the nest into a "bowl" that cradles the eggs.  No, now is the time to "ride it out" literally.

This is what the loon has been called to do.  This is what has driven it all spring.  This is part of what it means to be a loon.  If it thinks about anything else, it doesn't show it.  It simply faithfully sits on the eggs while the wind rages around it.

We are now at the half-way mark in the development of the eggs.  One can only imagine the wonder of what is taking place inside the shells of those two spotted olive-brown eggs.  A chick developing.  Wings and feet and beak and head.  Eyes and a heart that probably is already beating.  Wonders that are almost beyond comprehension.

All across the northern part of North America, this drama is being played out by countless thousands of loons.  Although most of them are not as far along in the nesting process as "our loons".

Our loons are at almost the southern limit of the breeding range of loons.  So they are farther ahead in their nesting and laying eggs than most other loons.   Farther south, people hardly know what loons are or how special they are.  Farther north, they are only now starting to look for nesting areas.  And farther north still, in northern parts of Canada, the ice is still covering the lakes and loons are waiting for that ice to go out before they can think about nesting.

Minnesota has by far the greatest number of loons in the lower 48 states.  Out of a total of about 30,000 loons, Minnesota has about 12,000 of them.  Next is Maine with about 4,000, Wisconsin with about 3,000, Michigan with about 1500, New York with about 1000 and New Hampshire with about 500.  All the other states (but only the northern tier of states) have populations in the low hundred range or less.

Canada has the majority of the population with upwards of half-a-million loons, most of which are in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

So it is special for us to be able to watch these loons.  Most areas of the country and the world do not have the privilege to see and hear these magnificent birds.

The loon you are watching is a Common Loon.  Its official scientific name is Gavia Immer

There are actually five different species of loons:

- Common Loon

- Pacific Loon

- Arctic Loon

- Yellow-billed Loon

- Red-throated Loon

The Common Loon is the one most often seen by people in North America.  The Seward Peninsula of Alaska is the only area with all five species of loons.

So as you watch the loons on the nest today, realize how special they are.  And the special privilege that we have to be able to have a window into the "life of a loon".

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