Monday, June 14, 2010 7:04am CDT


57 degrees  Cloudy   Wind NNE 4mph


Egg #1   Day 40          Egg #2   Day 38


On a cool, cloudy morning, our loon continues to sit faithfully on the remaining egg.

I don't see the other loon right now.  But a boat with two fishermen sits anchored against the light wind out from the loon.  A seagull flies overhead.  And a few other birds are in their morning song.

Everything seems quiet and right.

Right that is except that the hatching date for the loon egg is long overdue.

Does the loon know that?  From all outward appearances today is like any other day.  The loon sits on the egg like it has for the past 40 days.  One wonders how much it knows or understands.  How much is simply instinct.  To sit on the egg no matter what.  From what has been documented in research, it is very possible that it would sit for at least another month or more if the egg did not hatch.  And now there is almost no chance that the egg will hatch.

So tonight at 11pm we will remove the egg from the nest so that the loon can get get on with its life.  

We will duplicate what would happen if the nest were on shore where a raccoon or some other predator would have probably taken the egg by now.  I appreciate the overwhelming support from so many of you to take this action to free the loon to get on with its life.  It is a decision that is not made lightly or done without consultation with experts.

But I FULLY understand the feelings of some of you to not do it.  To wait a few more days.  To give it more time.  Maybe, just maybe it will help to wait.  But then I ask myself, to what end?

So here is what I expect to happen when I take the egg tonight...and some of the signs you can watch for.  As the loon becomes aware of something approaching the nest, she will become more alert and will watch.  When I am about 10 feet from the nest, she will go into the water and swim nearby.  I don't expect her to call immediately but she may.

I will try to find and pickup the egg in the dark [I will have a flashlight but I will use it only in case I cannot see it at all.]  If the loon seems calm, I will try to show the egg to the camera so that you can see it quickly before it is taken.  If there is ANY indication that there may be a chick inside that is trying to get out, the egg will immediately go back on the nest.  But the longer I stay near the nest, the more likely that the loon may start doing  some 'splash show diving'.  So I will try to do everything as quickly as possible.  And to leave as quickly and as quietly as I can.

I would then expect the loon to wait some time .... 10 to 15 minutes ... before she feels it is safe to get back on the nest.  If this were a raccoon or other predator taking the egg, the confrontation would likely be much more violent and distressing and she maybe would not return to the nest for sometime, if ever.  However, I expect that she will return relatively soon.

But from there on, who knows what the reaction will be when she realizes that there is no longer any egg on the nest.  No egg to turn.  My hope and prayer is that there is no great distress and that there is a simple acceptance of it.

The loon may still sit on the nest for a little bit and may even return to the nest a few times to check it out.  But I expect that the bond will be broken fairly quickly.  And that they can get on with their lives.

I have received several reports from other areas where either the loons are long overdue for a hatch or where the eggs did not hatch and they have abandoned their nest.

Is it the unusual weather this spring?  Unusually warm very early and then unusually cool later?  Or is it some other factor that we do not see or know?

Are we aware of it because by simply watching these loons so closely we are aware of every little detail that would have gone unnoticed before?  Surely this has happened a thousand times over through the years.  But for most of us this is the first time that we have ever been able to observe this wonder of nature so close and so personal.  What is out of sight is out of mind.  But because we have been able to watch every minute and every detail with this special pair of loons, we have bonded with them in a unique way and therefore tend to personalize everything.

The same thing that would have caused great joy with seeing a little chick after watching for so long, now causes a deep sense of sadness and longing when it becomes apparent that the chick is not to be this year.  If only.  If only.  If only.....

So there is a certain heaviness in my heart today as we look at removing the egg so that the loons can get on with their lives.  But I am also convinced it is the right thing to do.  And I know that many of you feel the same way.

So today let's enjoy every minute of the view of this magnificent bird today.  All of the various behaviors that we have come to know and enjoy and appreciate with a new sense of wonder and knowledge.

I will try to leave the camera on for a few days even after they leave the nest so that you can catch a glimpse of them now and then.   But then this year comes to an end and we will look forward to next year and a whole new set of adventures.

And life goes on.  In all its innumerable forms.  With all its marvelous variations and twists and turns that are impossible to predict.