Sunday, May 3, 2009 2:10pm CDT


64 degrees  Partly Cloudy   Wind  NW9mph


It is a beautiful spring day in Minnesota.  A slight breeze.  Bright blue sky.  High puffy clouds.  Summer type of clouds.

Our loons now have two eggs on the nest!  With each day that passes, they will get more and more serious about not leaving the nest.  It almost seems as if they know what is ahead and right now they are taking every opportunity to be off the nest and in the water for a few minutes.  The amount of time off the nest  is more than I am even used to seeing but, as of yet, I do not think there is any reason for concern.

With the dates that the eggs were laid, I would say that we should see chicks hatching somewhere around May 28 give or take a couple days.  Assuming that everything goes well and there are no catastrophes in between.  We have somewhat rewritten what is known about loons through this camera on the nest.  The common wisdom is that the incubation period is 28 days.  However, we have documented it to be as low as 25.1 days.  So let's see what this year brings.  YOU can be the research scientists along with all the rest of us!

Some of you have commented about the loon rubbing its head on its back and wondering what that is all about.  Or shaking its head.  You may have seen it looking like it was "snapping" at something in the air.  Well, it WAS snapping at something in the air.  The real sharp eyed ones of you have noticed that there are bugs sitting on the loons head.  If you look closely you can see them at times.

They are a species of black fly. 

And they can torment loons.  That  may also be part of the reason for the loons leaving the nest.  To dive in the water where they can get some temporary relief from these flies.

But these are not ordinary flies!  This is yet another  one of the absolutely fascinating things about loons.  Scientists tell us that they are a species of black fly that feeds EXCLUSIVELY on loon blood!  And you thought your doctor put you on a restrictive diet!!!!!

I still find it hard to believe that it is true.  But there is more and more scientific research that seems to verify that.  Now there is some trivia for around the office water cooler tomorrow!  "Did you know.....!!!"

So blood-sucking black flies - LOONblood-sucking black flies - is just one more thing that the loons have to overcome in their mission to raise a new generation of little loons.

You also  may have noticed the loons sitting with their mouth open and wondered if they were calling or what that was about.

Sometimes loons do call while they are on the nest, but most of the time they are silent while they are sitting on the nest.  I imagine it is partly to keep from drawing attention to the location of the nest.

The open beak posture is one of the ways loons control their body breathing in and out more.  You will see that behavior increase on hot days or even very sunny days.  With their black plumage, they absorb a lot of heat from the sun.  Add that to the fact that they are normally swimming in cool water - or even ice cold water - they are used to being able to keep their bodies cool.  But sitting on the nest out of the water, their body heat tends to build up and by opening their beaks and breathing deeper, they are able to get rid of some of the excess body heat.

There is one other behavior that I have never been able to figure out and have never seen any research or explanation of it.  If you know the explanation, I would love to hear it.  The loon will look like it is almost holding its breath.  I am not sure if they are or not but it looks like it.  And then all of a sudden, they will open their beak and breathe deeply and heavily for a while - almost like they are panting.  Why?  I have no idea.  Help me out and help me understand it if you know.  There is so much to learn about these wonderful birds!

So I hope that it is beautiful where you are.  And that you get a chance to get out and enjoy the wonder of God's creation.  That is what I am going to do right now!


Comments or Questions or Observations?  Post them here, in the Chat Room or send them to  I will not be able to answer everyone, but I DO read everyone and try to respond here in the blog if several have the same question.