Saturday, June 12, 2010 5:34am CDT


53 degrees    Cloudy    Wind NE 5mph


There is a haze of fog that drifts across the lake this morning.  It is just enough to give it that "mood".  And just like any other morning, our loon still sits faithfully on the egg.

In fact, it is almost as if they have gotten better at staying on the egg and making a quick change of shifts in the last week or so.  There have been fewer extended periods of time when they have been drawn off the nest.

Unfortunately, it may be too late for that to do much good.

We are now at Day 36 and Day 38 for each of the eggs respectively.  It is impossible to know if it is "egg #1" or "egg #2" that is still on the nest.  But whichever one it is, the chances of it successfully hatching become less and less with each passing day.

In a couple days, we will probably remove the egg from the nest so that the loons can get on with their lives.  I will let you know before we take the egg so that you can watch if you want.  Now taking a loon egg is not something you just decide to do on your own.  Even the DNR needs a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to collect a loon egg.  All of that has been taken care of and we have all the permissions necessary to collect the egg when the time is right.

So we will wait for a few more days to make sure that there is absolutely NO chance that the egg is going to hatch before we remove it.

But it is unfair for us to leave the loon 'chained' to the nest if there is no chance of the egg hatching.  Since we provided the nest that was relatively safe from predators, it may be only fair to provide a "predator" to finally take the egg.....even if it turns out to be a 'human predator'!  There are no easy choices when an egg does not hatch.  Everything would have been so much easier and better all the way around if we had two new loon chicks.

But nature doesn't always make it 'easy'.

While we wait, you may be interested in a couple more interesting facts about loons.

You have seen how clumsy they are on land and that my be, in fact, how they got their name from the Swedish word 'lom' meaning 'clumsy'!

But as you have seen them get on and off the nest, you may have also gotten a glimpse of how big their feet are!  Their feet are webbed and are approximately 5 inches by 3 inches.  This is truly 'bigfoot'!

Someone has calculated that in human terms, that would be equivalent to you having a size 45RRR shoe!  Imagine yourself trying to walk with 'clown shoes' like that!

But for the loon, it is ideal.  They are birds of the water, not the land.  And a huge foot like this gives them the ability to swim very fast with such powerful 'swimming fins' at the end of their powerful legs.  As we have said before, loons have been documented diving to depths of 250 feet.  And they have been known to stay underwater for 5 minutes.  Try holding your breath that long to see how long of a time that really is.

Try holding your breath for even 30 to 45 seconds which is the average length of a dive.

Loons also have powerful wings.  But they do not use them underwater.  They keep them tucked close against their body and they are almost like a torpedo.  They are fast and they are able to maneuver there large bodies with amazing speed and they can make turns on a dime.   You only wish that you drove a race car with such maneuvering ability!

You have seen how a small minnow can dart around.  Back and forth.  Now imagine a huge 10 pound bird being able to do the same thing.  Loons can!  They can outmaneuver that minnow and catch him with their long bill.

A loon will eat up to 2 pounds of fish a day!

Some fishermen have blamed loons for poor fishing.  But then don't all of us fishermen want to blame anything other than us for poor fishing.  Even though loons eat a lot of fish, no studies have ever shown them to have a significant impact on the number of fish.  Their absolute favorite food is small perch.  A fish that fishermen complain about taking their bait anyway.  And small sunfish.

Loons have a wing span between 4 and 5 FEET!

Their wing span is much larger than most people think.  And they are very powerful flyers.  It takes a long 'runway' for them to become airborne.  But once they are in the air stand back!  Because in bird terms they are more like a jet than a slow propeller-driven airplane.

They can fly 90 to 100 miles per hour!

In flight, they flap their wings 260  to 270 times per minute!

Put your arms out and try doing that.  And see how long you can keep it up.  That is almost 5 times a second that they are flapping their wings.  A second!  Can you do that for even a few seconds? For ONE second?  Let alone for minutes and HOURS at a time?  Loons do.

These are only a few more of the things that make our amazing loons so amazing!

Continue to enjoy this close-up view of this amazing bird for the next few days.  How much richer are our lives because this beautiful and amazing bird is in our world!