Wednesday, April 18, 2012 6:08 am CDT

53 degrees F   Cloudy    Wind  12 mph  SSE
We have had more rain overnight and this morning promises even more with a possibility of thunderstorms.
Nearer the Canadian Border, there has been freezing rain this morning.  Those are the same areas of the state that got close to a foot a snow on Monday!  But here it is just rain with the warmer temperatures.  
I promised some of you who were at the "Lunch and Learn" seminar yesterday that I would give you the link to the USGS website that tracks loon migration through the implanted satellite transmitters.  It is:
It was so good to meet some of you at seminar.  The organizers of the Lunch and Learn said it was more than double what they have ever had for any of their other seminars.  We do love our loons, don't we?
Even though 'our loons' have already been home almost a month, some of the loons are still migrating north from their wintering grounds on the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.  One of the loons whose home lake is Vermilion Lake on the edge of the Boundary Waters wilderness near the Canadian border, was still on the Atlantic off the coast of South Carolina on Monday.
What is it that triggers some loons to come north early and some to stay on the ocean many weeks longer?
So many mysteries that we can only guess at and wonder.  Mysteries that only point out the marvels and miracles of nature.
One of the loons here has already been up on the nest this morning while the mate swam nearby. 
You can expect to see this type of behavior increase as we near the time for the laying of the first egg.  They will come to the nest more often, spend a little bit of time and leave.  I don't know how to predict when the first egg will be laid but I would not be surprised if we are within about a week or less of the first egg.
I have heard a few yodel calls this morning.
I have not gone down to the lake to see what the loons are concerned about.  I cannot see them from here right now.  It may be that an eagle is already flying over the lake this morning looking for breakfast.  Or it may be other loons that are on the lake.
Last year for the first time that I can ever remember, we had another pair of loons that nested on a channel off the lake and successfully hatched two little chicks and successfully raised them.  That is a first for this lake in a long, long time if not ever.
I have not seen another pair on the lake this year but that does not mean there is not one.
Loons will establish a very distinct territory on a lake that is "theirs".  And they will defend that territory against other loons and all intruders.
Researchers have plotted the position of loons on the lake.  And it becomes very obvious that there is an invisible line that separates the two pairs of loons.  There is no 'physical line' to be seen, but the loons know exactly where it is.  And they do not cross it.  Any crossing of that line can lead to a confrontation and a fight.
How they know where that line is, is again one of the many mysteries and miracles that we do not seem to be smart enough to see and figure out.
The shape of a lake can more determine how many pairs of loons can use it and nest on it than the actual size,  A lake with many bays and fingers can support more loons than a round lake.  The bays allow the loons to stay out of sight of each other during nesting season and therefore to avoid conflict.  On a more open lake, if the loons can see each other, they probably will fight.
One of the other prime conditions for loons is that the lake must have an abundance of small fish.
Loons eat water insects, crayfish, leeches and other small food like that but their primary diet is minnows and other small fish.
A loon can eat up to 2 pounds of fish a day so it takes a lot of small fish to keep a loon fed.
Right now our loons are apparently out feeding somewhere else on the lake.
But they will be back to the nest yet today.  Once or several times.  I hope that you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them when they come back to the nest.
One of the times will be the time that 'it is time'.  And then the first egg will be laid!
Comments or Questions?   LoonCam(at)yahoo(dot)com
 Copyright 2012  Larry Backlund