Well, on Sunday afternoon I mustered all my courage and gathered up the two loon eggs from the refrigerator (I promised Ethelle they wouldn’t smell!) and took them to the backyard with my egg drill and oologist’s blowpipe tool for blowing out the eggs. The egg that you picked from the nest was totally rotten—infertile. The second one that had the air sac and had floated into the lake had a small embryo of a loon chick which would have been the dark mass just under the air sac. It had apparently died early in incubation. Uffda did it smell awful, and by the time I finished after about 30 minutes, I had a large entourage of flies observing the process. I have refrigerated the eggs and need to get back to them to flush out the inside of the eggs with water to remove more of the smell. They are still pretty rank."
So he has gone WAY beyond the call of duty to give us the maximum amount of information about what happened with the eggs! He is a great person to work with and he is in charge of all the non-game wildlife programs in Minnesota!
Then he also said, "It looks at this point like we will be able to capture the three loons that we need for the satellite transmitter project at sites that include some that your contacts have provided. I will keep you posted on our progress."
So thank all of you who gave us some insight and information about loons that have had chicks this year. As I find out more, I will try to keep you informed.
Once again, I hope that all of you in the US have a wonderful and safe 4th of July.
And just a reminder if you are on lakes anywhere there are loons. Remind the people you are with to be on the lookout for loons.
Adults can do fairly well with boat traffic and dive out of danger. But even so there have been reports of adult loons hit and killed by boats and jet skis. So just ask your family and friends to be aware that they are sharing the lake with loons.
But more important are chicks.
This is probably the most vulnerable time for chicks.
Their first two weeks of life are when there is the highest chick mortality. Once they make it beyond two weeks, their life expectancy goes up dramatically.
Why is that?
There are several reasons. For the first few days to a week of their life, chicks cannot dive. They will try to dive but at most they go down a couple inches and then just pop up to the surface like a cork! So if a fast boat or jet ski is headed straight at them and bearing down on them, they may try to dive but they cannot dive deep enough to get out of harm's way. And they are so small that unless a boater is being very observant, he will probably not even know that he has hit and killed a baby loon.
Secondly, with a lot of boat traffic, there is a chance that the chicks will be separated from the adults. Not only are they in danger of being hit, they are also then in danger of a large fish or turtle eating them or an eagle or gull snatching them.
So they enter one of the most dangerous periods of their lives. And unfortunately the busy 4th of July weekend coincides exactly when so many loons have their new chicks out on the lake for the first time. If they can make it through this weekend and the first two weeks of life, the chances of them surviving are very encouraging.
You can help by just reminding your family and friends to be on the lookout for loons and new baby chicks when they are out on the lake. You could very well save a new generation of loons! And with the threat of the Gulf oil disaster looming for our loons, every chick is especially important this year.
So have a wonderful holiday! Enjoy your family and friends and our history.
And especially enjoy our LOONS!