Sunday, June 6, 2010 6:22am CDT


49 degrees   Clear   Wind W 3mph


The sky is clear and a bright blue this morning.  And the birds are all singing their Sunday best.  A chorus worthy of any choir.

The loon has just let out a single wail.  It is almost as if it is a call to its mate, "I am here waiting.  Where are you?"

But right now I do not see the mate anywhere in sight. 

This is day 33 for the first egg and tonight will be day 31 for the second egg.

So the questions start to mount if the eggs will hatch.  And the short answer is that I do not know!  But we are now at a fairly critical time.  If we do not see the eggs hatch in the next couple days, the chances of them hatching start to go down with each passing day.

But the loons have not given up yet.

They still sit faithfully on the eggs.

Questions have been raised of how long they will continue to sit on an egg that does not hatch.

A couple years ago we had a situation where one egg hatched and the other one did not.  The loon kept returning to the nest, along with the chick, to sit on the unhatched egg.  After about 10 days or 2 weeks, it was obvious that the second egg was not going to hatch.  So in consultation with several experts, we decided that the right thing to do would be to take the egg off the nest to break that bond and to let the loons and the chick get on with their lives.

It was a controversial decision and a number of people were very upset with me that we would do such a thing.  But in hindsight, I think it proved to be the right decision.  It almost immediately broke the bond with the nest and the parents could teach the chick what it meant to truly be a loon.  And that was to be in the water fishing rather than on an artificial nest with an egg that was not going to hatch.

We x-rayed the egg and found that the chick had died inside the egg about halfway through its development.  This fit perfectly with a time that the nest had been completely filled with cold water during a storm when an eagle had chased the loon off the nest.

One egg survived.   The other one did not.

But this morning it is too early to contemplate something like that.

There is still a chance that our eggs might hatch.

But I have to be brutally honest that now my concern begins to mount with each passing day.  A while back I said that if we went significantly beyond this weekend without a hatch, that a successful hatch starts to become questionable.  I still feel that way.

There is still a lot of hope.  But it begins to dim with each passing day.

There are documented cases of loons sitting on eggs for well over 60 days before finally abandoning the nest.  So the loons are faithful in doing their part.  And beyond!!

But in most cases of a natural nest along a shore, if an egg does not hatch, eventually a predator will take it.  Raccoons are the biggest predators of loon eggs from nests on shore.  So nature has a way of breaking that bond with the nest as well.

There is a 50% chance of rain or thunderstorms later today.  So the loons will be cooler as they sit on the nest.  And we still need the rain since it has been so dry.  But we do not need, nor do the loons need, any severe weather with high wind and waves or especially any hail.

But they take what they get.  And stay faithful in any kind of weather.  In hot weather.  In cold weather.  In snow.  In rain.  In hail.  In stormy weather.  In beautiful sunny, cool weather like it is right now.

For our loons right now, this is just about the ideal.  Like Goldilocks, not too hot, not too cold.  Not too windy.  Not too still.

This is just right!