Friday, April 27, 2012 6:24am CDT

32 degrees F    Partly Cloudy    Calm
Sunrise  6:06am CDT    Sunset  8:15pm
There are scattered areas of frost on a cool, crisp Minnesota morning.
A couple loons have flown over this morning and then landed.
Our loons?  "Intruder" loons?
Who knows?  I have totally lost track of who is who.
A couple people in the chat room who have been closely and faithfully observing have said they think that two or maybe three different females have tried to use the nest.  I don't know what to tell you.  If that is true, it is the first time I have ever seen it on this nest although I am sure it has happened and does happen in the wild at times.
There was also an observation a couple nights ago by one of the viewers of a loon being attacked by another loon as it was halfway on the nest.  If that was accurate, and I have no reason to believe it wasn't, that must have been an "intruder" loon trying to get on the nest.
I have said it several times before - most of the time I cannot distinguish one loon from another.
About all I can say for sure is that we DO have more than two loons on the lake.  I have seen at least one other pair and maybe even an additional single loon.  But the single loon is a 'maybe'.
A pair of loons swam around the nest a little while ago but did not get up on the nest that I saw.
Obviously the big question on everyone's mind is when there will be eggs and when the first egg will be laid and is it too late and a thousand and one other questions.
Only God and the loons know for sure and neither one has told me the answer yet.
But let me put your minds at ease as much as I can.  I looked back over the last few years to see when the eggs were laid.  I didn't look at all the years that we have done this particular nest but here are the last four years:
2008  Egg #1  May 10     Egg #2  May 12
2009  Egg #1  April 30     Egg #2  May 2
2010  Egg #1  May  5    Egg #2  May 7
2011  Egg #1  May 4       Egg #2  May 6
So we are well within the "normal" time frame and limits for this nest, whatever they are.
This particular nest has usually been about a month earlier than loons nesting up along the Canadian border or in Canada or even most loons in New England.  I have no explanation of why.  Yet one more of the mysteries.
So as of yet, there is no need for concern about the timing of them laying the eggs or that it is too late.  It definitely is not too late.
The most important part is that they settle the territorial boundaries so that all of the loons can settle down and get on with their nesting activity.
Having said that, let me give you a few hints of what to watch for when it actually is time for the loon to lay its first egg.
Typically they will start to spend more and more time around and on the nest.  There will be more intense nest building activity while they are on the nest.
Then one of the times she is on the nest you will see small twitches and an "uncomfortable" look.  Gradually she will crawl up on the side of the nest bowl.  She may spread her wings and even her feet a little, as if to brace herself.
You will see "pulsations" of the body.  It must be as the egg is being moved down through the egg canal.
The actual laying of the egg will usually happen very quickly - it will almost just pop out.  If you turn your head for a second, you may miss it.  It happens that fast most of the time.
If you are fortunate enough to see it, you will have the privilege of seeing something that researchers of the past could only dream about seeing.  A number of years ago we were actual to catch the laying of the egg on tape and as far as any of us know, that was the first time that an actual laying of a wild loon egg had ever been captured on tape.
In the past, researchers could only guess the approximate time or date that eggs were laid.  Now with the Loon Cam and with such faithful observers, we usually know the exact minute it was laid.
Loons usually lay two eggs.  Sometimes they lay only one and rarely they will lay three eggs.
Then a new clock starts ticking. 
It takes about four weeks for the eggs to hatch.
So the vigil continues in the maternity room.
Today the forecast is for the wind to pick up and then maybe some rain later this evening.
But more than the rain.  Overnight it is supposed to be cold enough tonight that there will be SNOW mixed in with the rain tonight and tomorrow morning.  They are not forecasting any accumulation of snow but most of the forecasts are talking about snow.  Then tomorrow is forecast to be very chilly and get only into the 40s!
The watch and the wait continue.
Comments or Questions?  LoonCam(at)yahoo(dot)com
Copyright 2012  Larry Backlund