Saturday, May 19, 2012 5:39am CDT


70 degrees F     Clear    Wind  3mph S

Sunrise  5:38am     Sunset  8:41pm


According to faithful watchers, it has been a very quiet night on the nest and the loon who spent all night there hardly changed position for several hours.

Let's hope that today is a quiet and uneventful day for them.  

They deserve a break from what has been constant interaction and confrontation with other loons.

Today is once again going to be very warm - possibly once again up to 90 degrees.

There is a chance of thunderstorms today and tonight and an even higher chance tomorrow.

We need rain badly.  The nest itself needs rain.  Everything on the nest must be close to being dust.  The iris that were pulled out by the roots are still surviving but showing signs of wear and tear and stress.  But it looks like it has even tried to send up a flower bud.

I think I can still make out the root ball of the pansy that they loons pulled up by the roots.  I was hoping for some rain that might keep it alive.  I am not sure there is much chance for it now.

You can see small specks of green around the nest.  That is natural weeds that are trying to grow.  But trying with great difficulty.

The amazing part of everything though is that we seem to have an abundance of loons, all wanting to use this lake.  And maybe even this particular nest.  That is the wonderful part.  How many places in the country can say that they have an abundance of loons?  Maybe even too many?

Most areas wish with everything they have that they could even have one pair of loons to grace their lake and enrich their lives.

And here we are seeing maybe even too many loons - if that is ever possible!

Several people have asked me if we may be seeing the young from previous years coming back to the lake.  I think that is a very real possibility.

Like so many other things about loons, hard data is lacking in so many areas.  But the commonly accepted wisdom through the years is that the young initially come back to the same lake they were born on.  That may be exactly what we are seeing here.

Let me refresh and recap for those who may be new to the LoonCam.

In the fall of the year, the adult loons make their way to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Coast for the winter.  They leave their almost fully grown chicks behind.

The chicks do not leave for another month after the parents have left.

In what to me is one of so many amazing things about loons, when the young loons leave late in the fall, they find their way on their own down to the Gulf of Mexico.  Even having never been there before, somehow they find their way!  To me it is a miracle.  We don't know how they do it.

We think we are so smart with our GPS units the last few years.  Loons have had 'onboard' GPS that outdoes anything that we have ever had.  And they have had it for thousands of years.

But next spring when the adults make their way back to their northern lake homes, the chicks stay on the Gulf of Mexico.

And they will stay there for the next three years before they come back north for the first time!

With what little firm information we have, it is believed that they then not only come back to the area where they were born but that they come back to the same lake.  Yet another miracle.  Three years have gone by and yet somehow their GPS brings them back to the same lake that they were born on!  What other words fit than 'miracle'.

I am fond of often saying, "God, I don't know how you done it.....but you DONE GOOD!"

The loon migration studies that Kevin Kenow at the USGS is doing, hopefully will add to our knowledge of loons and their migration.

We have talked before about the satellite transmitters that have been implanted in a number of loons that can track in real time where the loons are.

But I have not said much about another whole huge part of that project.

In addition to the males that have the satellite transmitters, over a hundred other female loons and chicks have had 'data recorders' attached to their legs.

These data recorders actually record a wealth of data including location, how deep they dive, temperatures and many other things.  Those data recorders then must be recovered and the data downloaded.  So it is a long term project that hopefully will give us huge amounts of data in the years ahead.

Maybe we will learn more about whether or not the chicks come back to the lake they were born on.

So that is a very long answer to 'could what we are seeing be some of the chicks from previous years on the LoonCam coming back to the lake?'

And I think the answer to that is that it is a very real possibility.

I have thought that for the last several years.

I first started to really believe it when I think we had a change of the pair on the nest about two or three years ago.  But it was just a hunch.  A feeling that there was a change in behavior from what I had seen before.

And this year especially has confirmed some of those feelings with a lot of behavior that I have not seen before.

But we cannot know for sure.  We can only once again watch and wonder and learn.

There are some days that I long for the days of years ago when there was one pair of loons.  No conflict.  The loons seemed to know what they were doing.  They came back.  They built a nest.  They laid eggs.  They hatched chicks.  And they raised those chicks to adulthood.

Ahhhhhh, for simpler times.

But we are blessed with an abundance of loons!

And for that we ought to be very thankful.


Comments or Questions?    LoonCam(at)yahoo(dot)com

Copyright  2012   Larry Backlund