Sunday, May 22, 2011 10:18pm CDT

60 degrees    Cloudy    Wind  1 mph  SW
This has been another very eventful and wet day in the life of our loons.
There have been torrential downpours.
One of my neighbors said he had measured 7 1/2 inches in his rain gauge between yesterday and today!
The rain just can't seem to stop.  But more importantly, once again today severe thunderstorms and tornadoes were bouncing all over state.  Unfortunately there has been severe damage in areas of Minneapolis as well as other communities.  Sadly one man from out of state was killed in his car when a large tree fell on it!
Even with the damage and death it is no where as bad as many areas of the country have suffered this spring.
But once again today our loons lucked out and all the severe weather went all around them.  They were in the calm 'eye of the storm' and did not have to contend with severe wind but they did sit through a number of very heavy rainstorms and a lot of lightning and thunder.
But they stayed on the nest during the heaviest parts of the rain.
At dusk tonight, the loon and the nest floated on a beautiful sea of shimmering quicksilver.
But even now as I am writing, there was a wail from out in the dark.  It sounded like it was fairly close to the nest.  Then the loon on the nest answered with an ear piercing yodel!  So it is the male on the nest again tonight.
After 4 yodels from out on the lake and 3 answers from on the nest, the male left the nest to go out to meet the loon who had challenged him.
A symphony of yodels and tremolos and wails bounced back and forth across the lake from all directions.  It is beautiful if you don't know what the calls mean.  Even if you do know, it is beautiful but it also causes concern because you know that this is a confrontation between 2 pairs of loons.
One of the loons finally returns to the nest after about 24 minutes off the nest for the confrontation.  Anytime they are off the nest concerns me.  But it is relatively warm and so this amount of time should not hurt the eggs.
In fact, if there are chicks developing inside the eggs, they may be close to the point where they can generate some of their own heat.
We are rapidly approaching the time when things move fast and when they get real exciting.
If your family and friends have not started watching yet, now is the time to call them, email them, tweet them, Facebook them and use every other means to let them know now is the time to start watching.
From the "official" incubation time for loon eggs, the first egg should hatch Wednesday night, June 1st.
But .... and this is a big 'but' with a lot of disclaimers .... if I had to guess, I would guess that it might hatch a day or two earlier than that!  So it could even hatch on Memorial Day.
And then the moments are so fleeting!
For those of you who have asked, the loon chicks leave the nest within a day or two of hatching, usually never to return to the nest.  From that point on they are truly water birds.
The 2 eggs were laid 1 1/2 days apart but they will probably hatch closer together than that.  It is something called 'catch up', where the second egg sometimes hatches quicker than the first egg.  There are some biologists who say that they chicks actually communicate with each other while they are still in the egg.
There are so many things that we do not know nor understand.  Now if only we had a microphone where we could listen to the chicks inside the eggs talking to each other!
A loon chick is called "precocious" meaning that it is able to swim within a very short time after hatching.  Usually they might stay on the nest for about a day or so, and then they are gone.
So your chance to see the hatching and the little black loon chick with the white breast and the stubby wings and the big feet is so fleeting.  If you miss it, you miss it.  There are no 'do overs' or long extended times of the chicks being on the nest where we can watch them.
So get ready for the BIG miracle that is about to happen.
This is 'reality tv' that beats anything you will ever see anywhere else.
Questions or Comments?