Sunday, June 13, 2010 5:56am CDT

51 degrees   Cloudy   Wind  N 4mph
Egg #1   Day 39          Egg #2  Day 37
The calendar is no longer our friend when it comes to the loon eggs this year.
The probability that we could still have a successful hatch of the remaining egg has now gone to about zero.  There is no way to tell if the egg still on the nest was the first egg that was laid or if it was the second egg that was laid.  But either way, we are now 10 days beyond when we would have expected an egg to hatch.
All observations and research done would indicate that there is now almost no chance that the remaining egg will hatch.  The Minnesota DNR agrees that there is almost no chance it will hatch and has given permission to take the egg.  By taking it now, there is the possibility that it could add to the body of knowledge of what is known about loons.
But even more importantly, it will duplicate what would normally happen in nature when a predator would take the egg and free the loons from their nest.  As I have mentioned, there have been 2 cases documented where loons sat on unviable eggs for 66 days and 74 days when they did not hatch and no predator took them.  I would hate to see our loons have to go through that ordeal.
[Someone on here said that they had personally seen loon eggs go 3 weeks beyond its expected hatching date.   Whoever that was would you PLEASE contact me!  And post the information here.  I would like to know the details that can be verified because that would rewrite all the research that has ever been done.  And we owe it to everyone to have this documented if it is true.] 
It seems to be the overwhelming consensus to take the egg on Monday night, although many of you have said 'the sooner the better for the sake of our loons'.
So unless something unforeseen happens, I will plan on taking the egg tomorrow [Monday night] at 11pm.  I wanted you to know so that you could be watching if you want to watch and so you could tell others who you want to see as well.
There is the old saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."  I think that may sum up many of our feelings.  We would give anything to see a little black fuzzy chick.  To see our loons not tied to the nest day after day with no hope of chicks.  To have a different outcome than what we are seeing this year.  But this is nature.  This happens.  This is "natural".  And so we can make the best of it and learn from it.
Is it easy?  Absolutely not.  But we can either 'curse the darkness' or we 'can light a candle' and learn some new knowledge from what is not an ideal situation.  Who knew the 'script' that nature would write this year for this 'reality show'?  I certainly did not.  And I don't think that anyone else did either.
I have said it before but I want to say it again before people start scattering back to all of our 'normal lives'.
Thank you to each one of you who have been a part of this adventure with our loons this year!  You have been absolutely amazing.  The depth of your knowledge and understanding and caring knows no limits.  Thank you for your support and understanding in having to make a difficult decision like this.  It is humbling.
Thank you is never enough.  But the English language lacks words to adequately express it beyond those two simple words.  To express how I feel about each of you.  And all the expressions of support and caring that you have voiced on these forums and in person.  I am forever grateful.
A large number of you have expressed concern for my safety as well as the loons.  And I thank you for that as well.
That is part of the reason that the decision has been made to do it at night.
Some have said to wait until both of them are off the nest.  But even when they are "off the nest", they are still close by.  And during the day, an 'attack' is more probable.  [Although even at that I have to shake my head a little.  To me it would be an 'attack'.  To them it is just defending their nest!]
But here is what I expect will happen....but who can ever predict it?!!
I expect that at that time of night, one loon will be on the nest and the other one will be far out in the lake somewhere.
I expect that as I approach the nest, the loon on the nest will leave the nest.  As we saw when I had to adjust the camera, she did not leave until I was about 10 feet away from the nest.  For those who wondered if I 'would reach under her and take the egg', I do not think that will be a concern.  She almost certainly will leave the nest as I get near.  If she doesn't, there is no way I would even take the egg.  Both for her sake and for mine.  Trying to do that would almost guarantee injury to me.  And trauma to her.  If she does not leave the nest as I approach, then we 'go back to the drawing board'.
But I fully expect that she will leave the nest.
She will not leave the area but she will probably be swimming very close by.
If she does not seem to be under too much distress, I will probably even try to take the time to hold the egg up to the camera so that you can see it a little bit closer before I take it.  If she is doing a lot of calling or displaying [or attacking], obviously I will not take the extra time to hold it up to the camera for you.
Also, if I see ANYTHING that would make me believe that there is even a chance of a viable chick in the egg...a pip, a crack, a peep, a sound, ANYTHING...I will simply replace the egg on the nest and leave.
But I do not believe that will happen.
Some of you wondered about the first egg that I retrieved after it had been bumped into the lake and floated awayl
I kept it in the warmth for almost two days...JUST IN CASE there was any possibility that there was a chick inside hoping to get out.  But there was no indication of anything.  No hole in the egg, no crack, no sound, no movement.  But most telling, there was no warmth coming from inside the egg itself.  Something that surely would have happened had there been a chick inside ready to get out.
After I take the egg and quickly and quietly leave the area, it is anyone's guess what will happen next.
I would expect that after 10 or 15 minutes, the loon will once again get back up on the nest as we have seen her do so many times over the last month-and-a-half.
But then it is anybody's guess what will happen when she realizes there is no egg there to turn.  That is where we can learn even more.  What would they do if it had been another predator that had eaten the egg and it was not longer there?  I do not know what she will do.
A couple years ago, when one chick hatched and the other one did not, the loon returned to the nest after the egg had been taken and if I remember right, she looked around, sat on the nest for a little bit and then very soon afterwards left the nest and swam off with her mate and chick.
I would expect something similar to happen this time.  But this time she does not have a chick to swim off with.  This time it will be at night.  That time it was daylight and they were swimming close by with their chick, unconcerned.  So there are differences.
So I really do not know what to predict will happen after I take the egg.  We will see.  And we will learn.
I know that there are a few of you who have expressed concern that we are taking the egg.  Believe me, no one feels that more than me.  But I honestly think that this is the right thing to do at this time.
It is time to set our loons free from a nest and from an egg that will not hatch.  Thank you for your understanding.  And for caring for these beautiful creatures!