Wednesday, July 13, 2011 9:56pm CDT

65 degrees  Clear  Calm
The chicks continue to prosper and thrive.
And grow.
They are now in the process of losing their brown down.
Over their shoulders and wings, they are already getting their feathers and the down is gone.  The feathers are not the black and white that we know of loons but are a brownish gray.  These are the feathers of a juvenile that they will keep for the next two or three years.
But even though the feathers are brown, they have a little bit of mottling that belies the spotted plumage that they will eventually have when they become adults.  However, you have to look closely to see the mottling and the subdued spots.
The chicks are now 6 weeks old.
The other pair of chicks on the lake also seem to be doing well.
A few days ago I was watching the loons through the telescope as they swam directly in front of my place.
It was shortly before sunset and both adults were busily feeding the chicks.  They went through their usual routine of dive after dive.  Only to surface with a minnow.  The chicks would swim toward the adult and hungrily gulp the minnow down.  And the adult would make another dive.
Then both adults surfaced at the same time.
And both adults had a sunfish in their beaks.
Once again, the chicks swam to get fed.
The first chick gulped down the sunfish which looked to be about 2 inches across.  I didn't know if he could swallow it but he seemed to do it without too much trouble.
The other loon had a bigger sunfish.  I would guess that it had to be about 3 inches across.
It presented it to the chick but had some trouble getting it where the chick could take it head first.
Then it dropped it in the water and the chick craned its neck upwards, opened its beak wide and lowered its head on the sunfish.  But he could not swallow it.
He tried and tried.  The adult picked it up and presented it again.  And again the chick had trouble swallowing it.
Then the sunfish must have slightly revived because the adult dove but immediately came up with it in its beak.
No matter how the chick tried, it just could not get that big sunfish down its throat.
After maybe 10 or 12 tries, they just gave up and the adult ate the sunfish.
In one swift gulp, down it went.  You could see the bulge in the throat as the loon swallowed.
And then it was on to diving again and bringing up minnows that were more the proper size for the chicks.
The thing that I keep reminding myself, is that for the last 6 weeks, even when I am not watching, the loons have not forgotten their responsibility.  They are forever on the lookout for danger.
And the are forever catching fish and feeding 'our' chicks so that they can grow up to be healthy and strong loons.
The wonderful cycle of life goes on.  Whether we are watching or aware or not.
Questions or Comments?