Friday, June 10, 2011 7:04am CDT


51 degrees  Cloudy  Wind  3mph NE


It is a cloudy and misty morning.

A slight breeze forms a few small waves on the surface of the lake.

And somewhere out there are 'our' loons.

I haven't seen them close enough to clearly see both chicks yet.  They are far enough away that it is hard to distinguish them.  But I do not have any reason to not believe that both chicks are doing fine.  They are getting large enough that they are getting safer and safer from most things except eagles.

Each day that goes by now I relax a little more, knowing that their chances of survival increase greatly with each passing day.

With attentive and protective parents, those odds increase even more.  At times, the loons just sit and swim and relax and sleep.  But at other times, the parents are a veritable fish convey for the chicks.  Over and over they dive, catch a minnow and bring it to the chicks and feed them ever so gently.  And then they dive again.  And again.  And again.

I hope that you are enjoying the new view of the iris.

I have been wanting to turn the camera a little to the left so that you could see them.  I know many had commented about the one or two iris you could see.  And yet I knew there were many more that were just out of range of the camera to the left.  Many of them have already finished blooming.  I wanted you to see them before they were gone.

But the loons were always too close to the nest when I was home for me to adjust the camera for you.  I had to wait until they were far enough away before I would go near the nest.  And last night the chance came so I was able to make the slight camera adjustment.

I have watched with great interest this year as they have stayed closer to the nest than normal and have even gotten back up on the nest several times.

I do not have an explanation for it.  I have not seen this behavior of returning to the nest so often.  Once again, when you think you know a lot about them, they teach you something new.

I have seen them return to the nest once or twice in previous years, but not this often.  I think they know that all of you have been so wonderful and supportive that they want to give you one more view of the chicks.  It is like when I mowed for the first time a couple days after they hatched when they came in closer.  Almost as if to say 'have you seen our new babies?!'

Loons will very rarely renest is they have a successful hatch of chicks.  The chicks will occupy their time too much to even think about nesting again.

However, if the first nest fails, loons will sometimes attempt to nest again.  But the chances of the second nest succeeding are probably even less than the first nest.  At some point, you just run out of time - run out of summer - for the loons to lay the eggs, hatch the chicks and then raise the chicks to be large enough and strong enough before the cold and ice settle in for the winter.

So it happens sometimes but it is not real common.

The parents will stay with the chicks for most of the next couple months.  But it is not until the chicks are 11 to 13 weeks old that they will become independent and ready to fish and fly on their own.

Gradually, the chicks will start diving and begin to catch some of their own food.  But even at a couple months old, they are always ready to accept a fish from a parent if it is offered.

I am always amazed watching the parents feed the chicks.

Within a few hours of hatching, one of the parents will come to the chick and offer the tiniest little minnow.  How they are able to even find and catch such a little minnow in the first place is a miracle.  But then to watch them as they ever so gently offer it to the chick is something to behold.  At first the chick doesn't know what it is.  But then it gobbles it down.  And he is hooked.  It is fish for him from that time on.

As the chick grows, the adult brings bigger and bigger minnows.  All appropriate to the size of the chick.  A few times I have seen them bring a minnow that is obviously too big for the chick.  I can just imagine the other loon saying 'what on earth are you thinking!  They will choke on that.'  

And then the loon eats it himself.

Today is a cool day with a little bit of rain. 

It is a good day to fish.  To eat.  To swim.  To relax.

But to always stay alert for danger.


Questions or Comments?