Saturday, May 14, 2011 11:32am CDT

45 degrees   Raining   Wind 13mph  N
It is wet out there.
It is windy out there.
It is cold out there.
For fishermen, this is not the most pleasant weather to be in a boat, but it can be a good time for fishing.
For the loon on the nest, it does not make much difference one way or the other.  They are used to water.  Water is their element.  So whether it is swimming in the water or sitting in the water coming out of the sky, it does not make much difference.  Although I would guess the loon would probably rather be swimming and fishing than sitting on a nest and watching for danger.
But for the next few weeks, the call to sit on the eggs and protect them and keep them warm outweighs every other impulse.
And so the loon sits.  Hour after hour.  Day after day.
Some people have asked about which loon is on the nest and where is the other loon.
Loons about equally share nesting duties with the female maybe spending slightly more time on the nest.  Maybe about a 60 to 40 percent ratio.
When one loon is on the nest, the other loon is somewhere else on the lake fishing and feeding.
Sometimes the other loon is in the same area of the lake where the nest is and other times it may be all the way across the lake or out of sight completely.  But it is ever aware of what is going on around the lake and the possibility of danger.
All that is necessary is for there to be an alarm call from its mate on the nest and in minutes it will show up close by.  Ready to deal with any danger that might befall the nest.
With the rainy, windy cold weather today, that means that there are fewer fishermen out on the lake.  So that means less stress on the loons from a boat coming too close to the nest.  But tomorrow is forecast to be sunny and 80 degrees and so I expect activity on the lake to pick up markedly.
This might be a good time to remind everyone about "etiquette" around loons.
In general, do not try to get close to a loon.  That is our natural inclination.  We like them so much we want to be close and to see them up close.  If you stay about 300 feet away from a loon, you will cause very little stress on them.  Especially when they are on the nest it is important to stay this distance from them.  If you get too close to them, they will probably leave the nest.  When they do, that leaves the eggs exposed to the cold and the rain and also leaves them exposed to predators.
So remind you fishermen friends to be aware of loons and loon nests and to keep a respectable distance. 
Bring a pair of binoculars with you when you go out in the boat and you will be able to get a good view of the loons and yet maintain a distance from them.
Let the loon come near you if they want.  Many times if you sit quietly in a boat or canoe, the loon may approach you and swim very close to you.
Now having said that, there is one exception.
If you are near a nest, the loon may come VERY close to you!  But if he approaches you because he is upset, that is not a good thing.  He may call.  He may splash.  He may make excited dives.  He may do the "penguin dance" which is a sign of high distress and agitation.  The loon actually rises up out of the water by rapidly paddling its feet.  It is trying to make itself look bigger and more formidable to scare you away.
Unfortunately sometimes when people see the penguin dance or see the loon diving excitedly around them and maybe even swimming right under your boat or your canoe, they think "oh wasn't that nice that the loon wanted to put on a show just for us!"  Well, it isn't a show.  It 'is for you' but the loon is saying you are making me very nervous and I would appreciate it if you would leave.
If you see any of these behaviors that indicate agitation, just quietly back away and soon the loons will also settle down and relax.
I have seen very few instances where someone purposely did something to harm or harass loons.  Usually it is a case of we "like loons too much" and so we want to get close to them.
But if you and your friends just remember to stay a respectable distance away from them, you increase the chances of the loons staying around and also increase the chances that there will be even more loons in the years to come.
Questions or Comments?