Thursday, May 24, 2012 6:32am CDT

62 degrees F     Raining     Wind Calm
Sunrise  5:33am     Sunset  8:46pm
A steady rain continues on a gray morning.
Some areas of the state are reporting amounts of 4 to 6 inches of rain with more to come.  The forecast is for rain to continue for most of today.  They are saying that some areas may end up with an unbelievable 10 inches of rain out of this storm!
That amount of rain could raise the levels of some lakes enough that it may flood some nests of loons or other nesting waterfowl.
But for our loons, flooding the nest is not a problem - unless we run out of anchor rope on the floating platform.
Today is the two week mark for the laying of the second egg.  So we are officially at the half-way mark to expected hatching.
You probably have watched the loons carefully position the eggs near the back of their body as they adjust them when they get on the nest.
Many birds have what is called a 'brood patch'.
The brood patch is an area of bare skin on the breast or stomach of a bird.  This bare skin allows the bird to more efficiently tranfer their body heat to the eggs.  Some birds like the eider duck are known to pull out the feathers and eider down to line their nest.
But loons do not develop a brood patch to incubate the eggs.
Instead they have an area between their legs near the back of their body that is highly enriched with blood vessels.  The increased blood flow in this area allows the loon to transfer its body heat to the incubate the eggs and help them develop.
Another thing that makes loons different than most birds are their bones.
Most birds have hollow bones which cuts down on their weight.  This is important in allowing the birds to become airborne easier and to fly with less effort.
However, in a loon the bones are almost solid.
This explains why a loon needs such a long 'runway' to take off from the lake - up to a quarter mile of open water.
While it makes it harder for the loon to take off and fly, it makes it easier for them to dive for fish.
Loons have been documented to consistently dive to depths of over 200 feet!  And not having hollow bones helps them to do that.
Yet one more of the amazing things about our loons.
Comments or Questions?   LoonCam(at)yahoo(dot)com
Copyright  2012     Larry Backlund