Sunday, May17, 2009 8:43am CDT


50 degrees    Clear and Sunny    Wind  W 5mph


Finally the loons (and all the rest of us, too) are getting a break from the wind.  It seems like it has been unusually windy for the last week or more.

But this morning there is just a slight breeze.  Just enough to make ripples on the lake.  But it was cold overnight here at the lake.  There was just a touch of frost here at the lake with the low temperature at 31 degrees!!  This is not unheard of here in the north but it feels like "it is WAY too late for frost!"

The sky is a stunning blue this morning with not a cloud in sight.

The flowering fruit trees are in bloom.  Many of the other spring flowers are in bloom.  The view is stunning.   It is just one of those mornings when all is well with the world.  And all is well with the loons.

We are now down to less than 2 weeks before the eggs should hatch and we should have 2 baby loons!

The first egg was laid on April 30th and the second egg was laid on May 2nd.

If we go by the normally accepted incubation time, that means the first egg should hatch on May 28th.  However, if past observation is any guide, I would expect that it might even be a little earlier than that.

This morning in the bright sunlight, let me point out another unique feature of the loons....their red eyes.

On the camera, it is hard to see.  But when they turn their head just the right way in the sunlight, you can see that bright red eye.

They have this coloring only during the breeding season and summer months.  Yet one more special thing that we in the north country are blessed with that most other people do not see in the loons at other times of the year.  The rest of the year the loon's eyes are brown with maybe just a tiny tinge of red.

I have never heard a definitive explanation of why a loon's eyes are red.

There are some researchers who say that it may help them see underwater to be able to catch fish easier.  Without getting into too much detail, for those of you who remember your high school physics you will remember that water filters out different wavelengths of light.  The deeper the water, the more light it filters out until finally all wavelengths of light have been filtered out and it is total darkness at great depths.

The first wavelength to be filtered out is the blue wavelength.  Guess what?!?!  That is why our lakes are blue!  That is the light you see reflected back at you.  One of the names for Minnesota is "The Land of Sky Blue Waters"!

Red is the last wavelength to be filtered out at lower depths.  And so some researchers feel that the red color of the loons eyes is related to this and to help them see better underwater.

Other researchers say not so fast.  We don't think that it is related to that but that it is related to attracting and keeping a mate.  It is almost like a mating display or mating plumage.

I don't know what the answer is.  We will just have to wait and see until researchers agree and can definitively say 'this is what the red eye means'.

In the meantime, we can just enjoy it.  And enjoy these very special birds!


Questions or Comments or Observations?  Post them here or in the Chat Room or send them to