Tuesday, June 8, 2010 6:20am CDT


60 degrees  Raining  Wind SE7mph


This morning dawns gray and cloudy and rainy.

It is one of those rains that could possibly last all day.  Slow.  Steady. Soaking.  And life giving.

This is the type of day that you just want to stay in the tent when you are on a wilderness camping trip.  Sheltered in your tent listening to the drops of rain hit the roof over your head.  Safe and dry.  Maybe with a good book if you have one with.  But what makes those times even more special while you are camping is to hear a loon calling.  Somewhere out on the lake.  Through the mist and the raindrops.  That unmistakable sound.  

The call of a loon.

The sound that sends shivers up your spine and yet inexplicably enfolds you and wraps you in everything that it means to be in the wilderness.  Something exhilarating, yet calming and soothing.  Something that strikes a chord deep within our very being.

The call that is from a world other than the one where we seem to spend most of our lives.  A busy world of noise and schedules to be kept where we live.

But when the loon calls, it is from a different place and time.

The patter of the rain on our tent, the gentle breeze, the waves lapping at the shore.  And the call of the loon.  It is a different rhythm.  One that soothes and heals our very soul.

For our loon on the nest, the rain is no problem.  It is much more at home sitting on the nest during a gentle rain like this than it is when a hot sun is beating  down on it hour after hour.  After all, water is its element.  The place where it is most at home.

And so our loon sits.  Faithfully.

Today marks the 32nd and 34th days for the eggs.  Which one is still on the nest?  32 or 34?  It is impossible to know.

Whichever one is still on the nest, time now starts to rapidly run out as to whether or not we will have a successful hatch.  It is still possible.  There is still hope.   But with each passing day it becomes less and less likely that the egg will hatch.

There are so many questions about why?  But for now we can just wait and wonder.

If it does not hatch, this is the first time in many years that the loons on this nest have not had a successful hatch.

One is reminded again how relatively few of these birds are actually around.  That is one of the many things that makes them so special.  People in the southern 3/4 of the United States and most areas of the world never see the Common Loon.  The loon that is not common at all.

And if they do see it, it is usually not in its beautiful black-and-white summer plumage and they seldom ever hear the loon give its magical call.

So most people in the world are never blessed with seeing or hearing a loon.

But we not only get to see them and hear them, because of the LoonCam we get to see and hear them up close.  We get to "know" them as a friend!

But they remain relatively rare.

In the Lower 48 states, Minnesota has the most loons by far with about 12,000.  Then Maine has about 4,000, Wisconsin with 3,000, Michigan and New York with about 1,000 each and New Hampshire with about 500 loons.

So you can see why seeing and hearing a loon is so special.

In Minnesota too much of the time, we take them for granted.  We don't stop to realize that most people never have the privilege and opportunity that we have to enjoy this magnificent bird.

But then Canada puts all those numbers to shame.  It is estimated that 500,000 to 600,000 loons spend their summers in Canada.  While every Canadian province has some loons, the majority of them are in Ontario, Quebec, The Northwest Territories, Manitoba and British Columbia.  They are truly the voice of the North Woods!

In fact, the Canadian one dollar coin has a loon on the reverse side and is commonly and affectionately known as a "Loonie".

In most areas the loon population is classified as "stable".  But they are an 'indicator species' that gives a good picture of the overall health of the environment.  And so they give us a very good picture of what is happening all around us.

The oil spill in the Gulf has been something that many have asked about.  What effect will it have?

For most of our adult loons it is not a problem yet.  Because most adult loons are on their northern breeding grounds.

But the 'chicks' from the last three years are still on the Gulf of Mexico and so it remains to be seen what the impact will be on them.  And the adults that we are seeing this summer will head down to the Gulf or the Atlantic Coast later this fall.  Will they head into the jaws of the oil spill?  Or will the effects have been mitigated by then?  No one knows for sure.  There will be some impact.  But how much remains to be seen.

But today the focus of the loon is to take care of the one remaining egg.  To do everything possible to make sure that it hatches.

And that is what our loon is focused on.