Wednesday, August 28, 2011 11:07pm CDT


68 degrees   Partly Cloudy  Wind Calm


Summer winds down.

Can it be coming to a close already?

Where did it go?

Wasn't it just yesterday that we were waiting for the ice to go out and listening for that first call that would tell us that they loons are back for the summer?

How quickly it has gone.  I am sorry that it has been sometime since I updated you but I have been out of town quite a bit again.

But I am happy to report that our loons are doing well.  Or at least they were about a week and a half ago which is the last time I actually saw them.

I got home late last night and today I looked for them on the lake but I could not spot them during the short time I was able to look.  They may have been there and I just missed them.  As you know, they can dive and disappear out of sight so quickly and stay under for long periods of time.  Or they may actually have flown to another lake which they are known to do this time of year.

The chicks should have been able to fly for the last week or two although I have not actually seen them flying.  They are now 13 weeks old.

The last time I saw them, all four loons were swimming together and seemed to be doing very well.  The chicks were still accepting fish from the parents whenever it was offered but they were also doing diving of their own and so I assume that by now they are also catching a good share of their own fish.

From a distance when you just see the silhouette of the loon, it is hard to tell the chicks from the adults.  The chicks are now almost the same size as the adults and they have the classic loon profile.  They are only slightly smaller than the adults.

Soon the fall migration south will begin once again.

And the great northern reaches will fall silent from the call of the loon.

There is a certain sadness about that and a piece that is missing in the total picture of the north woods.

But it is as it should be.

And so we are left with the hope for next spring.

The USGS has surgically implanted satellite transmitters in some more loons in addition to the ones we did last year.  So by tracking them we will begin to get a clearer picture of exactly where and when the loons migrate.  I was not able to be involved in this year's project but will give you any updates as I can when I talk to the USGS and the Minnesota DNR.

Each piece of information adds more to our understanding of loons.

For instance, it has been known for some time that the Great Lakes have been very important to migrating loons in the central part of the US and Canada.  But what was a very interesting piece of information from last fall's and this spring's migrations is how important Lake Michigan is.

Every one of the loons that had satellite transmitters flew directly to Lake Michigan.  Some of them spent several weeks there before continuing on their journey south to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast.  That was a new piece of information that every one of the "satellite loons" made their way to Lake Michigan before continuing south.

Now we are faced with the summer rapidly winding down.

This Labor Day weekend is the last great 'hurrah' for the summer.

Within the next month or so, the adults will begin their migration south.  It will be interesting to watch if 'last year's" implanted loons will follow the same route again this year.  And what will the loons with the new satellite transmitters do this fall?  The USGS should start updating the migration map very soon so that you can track the loons as they migrate.

Then about a month later, the 'chicks' will make their way south, never having been there before.  I always stand amazed at the miracle of that every time I think about it.

May you be blessed and may you spend time with family and friends this weekend.

Enjoy them.  

Hold them close.

Savor every moment with them.

And tell them that you love them.



Questions or Comments?