26 degrees F Partly Cloudy Wind Calm
Wisps of fog drift across the lake like ghosts from Dicken's "A Christmas Carol".
Everything is white with frost including a loon nest.
It is a cold morning here in Minnesota. But oh it is so sweet to have a calm lake without the howling winds of yesterday. And without the drama of a camera about ready to be blown into the lake.
Two loons swim quietly near the nest, perfectly reflected in the still surface of the lake.
They have come in to make sure everything is ok but they do not get up onto the nest.
Apparently content that everything is still ok, they swim off to parts unknown.
This morning you can really see the beginnings of the nest with the low angle of the light striking it. During the times that she has been up on the nest, she has already begun to develop a very nice bowl shape by moving the nesting material around with her legs.
Loons are very opportunistic with their nest building and will use almost anything that is available. Since they have such difficulty getting around on land, they will usually build their nest within a few feet of shore. And they will use what ever they can find to form a nest. They have been known to just make a depression in the sand or gravel or dirt on the shore of the lake with very little added to it.
But more often they will pull in whatever vegetation they can from the area right around the nest. It is not unusual for them to form a nest on the top of a muskrat house. For those from other parts of the country or other parts of the world that may not be familiar 'muskrat houses' , they are large mounds of cattail rushes that muskrats cut and pile into a mound along with mud and other material. They make a chamber inside the mound of cattail fronds with a tunnel leading to the water. This keeps them safe and protected all winter but still allows them to get to ice free water through the tunnel to gather their food during the winter.
A loon will often stake out territory on the top of that muskrat house and rearrange the materials to form a nest.
But loons do not need anything fancy to make a nest. They will use whatever is available to them. So this nesting platform with its 'sleep number' bed is pretty high class for them with all that they need. Especially floating on the water with easy access and away from land based predators.
Today watch for continued swim-bys of the nest as they check it out. And for more times when they will get up on the nest and continue to work on the 'bowl'. And of course for mating. All of them are activities that show the loons have taken ownership of the nest and that we will once again be able to watch all the drama unfold. As eggs are laid. And hopefully as beautiful little downy new loonlings are hatched.
I look forward to seeing several of you who have said you have registered for the "Lunch and Learn" today at the Sandhill Center for the Arts in Bethel, MN.
They have told me that they have sold out and have over twice as many people as they have ever had for one of these sessions! But if you still want to come, call and see if there are any last minute cancellations. It would be fun to meet you.
We love our loons, don't we?
Comments or Questions? LoonCam(at)yahoo(dot) com
Copyright 2012 Larry Backlund