63 degrees Twilight Calm
Tonight is another one of those picture perfect evenings. The kind that take your breath away.
The kind that call you. That make you just drop whatever you are doing and stop to drink it in. To savor it. To let it just seep into every pore.
The sun set a little while ago but now it is that wonderful twilight time. The lake is still and our loons are swimming straight out from the nesting platform. They still tend to stay on this side of the lake but they venture further and further away from the nest. In fact, they spend very little time near the nest now and have not been back on it since that first day.
But for now, they sit straight out from the nest.
The water reflects the pink glow from the horizon and it just surrounds you and wraps you in its glow. There is a bright moon that is almost full hanging in the southern sky. And our two chicks are busy feeding. Once again the familiar routine of the parents diving and bringing minnow after minnow to the chicks.
It was one week ago last night that the second chick was born and one week ago this morning that he finally jumped off the nest into the water. You remember the scene. The chick standing at the edge of the nest last Thursday morning as the rest of the family swam nearby. He just couldn't quite muster up the courage to make that big jump. But finally he did - never to return to the nest.
Some of you will remember two years ago when one of the eggs did not hatch and the chick kept returning to the nest for about a week or ten days. The good part was that we got to see the chick growing. The bad part was that he was not off swimming and learning how to be a loon.
Finally we removed the egg that did not hatch and that broke the bond with the nest. It is one of the only times...if not the only time .... that I have violated my rule not to interfere. After consulting with several wildlife professors, zoo experts and DNR experts, we all agreed that it was time to take the egg. And some people were very upset that we did it. But it proved to be the right thing to do.
My rational was that we had provided an artificial nest that removed all danger of land-based predators. And therefore we had already altered what they would normally face. A racoon or some other predator would have taken the unhatched egg if the nest had been on land. So after waiting long enough to know that there was no chance it was going to hatch, we removed it from the nest and almost immediately the loons left the nest. The bond to the nest was broken.
Tonight you could see that the chicks have definitely grown. It is hard to tell how big they are from a distance. But they definitely have grown. They are still the balls of black down. Just bigger. I would guess, and it is only a guess, that they are maybe 3 to 4 inches long.
They are still at that stage where they are very vulnerable to predators and boats and jet skis. And they still ride on the parents back. This morning at dawn, both of the chicks were riding on the adult loons back. That wonderful, wonderful iconic view of loons and their chicks!
So tonight I just wanted you to know that our chicks are still alive and thriving and doing well and growing.
Life is good!