Tuesday, May 8, 2012 5:12am CDT


50 degrees     Cloudy     Wind 1mph  SW

Sunrise  5:50am     Sunset  8:28pm



It was laid last night sometime after 7pm.

I was not home so I did not see it actually being laid, but I was able to get access to a computer and logged in about 10 minutes after it was apparently laid.  

Of those who were watching, they said she was facing the camera so they could not be sure when it was actually laid.  But according to them, it was laid at 7:09pm at the earliest or 7:29pm at the latest.  From the descriptions, it sounds like 7:29pm may be the most likely.

But whatever time, we know we have an egg.  The first egg of this year.

Apparently she has not been on it since people last sighted her at 9:31pm last night.

In the early morning pre-dawn twilight, I can barely make out shapes.  But I think I see at least one of the loons floating not too far from the nest.  They both may be there but with the binoculars, I am having trouble distinguishing between loons and one of the buoys.  But I am almost sure I see at least one of the loons.

Yes, I am a little surprised that she is not on the nest this morning.

But this has been a year of surprises, hasn't it?

I do not think there is any danger to the egg by not having a loon on it overnight.  The temperatures have been fairly mild during the night.  The main danger of an unprotected egg would have been from predators.  With the nest floating about 150 feet from shore, it is safe from the greatest shoreline predators like raccoon and skunks and mink.

But today, if it is unprotected it will be vulnerable to predators like eagles or seagulls.

So it would be good if the loon comes back to the egg soon.

Most eggs from all birds are left uncovered for long periods of time when they are first laid.  With little danger of damage.  Then when the final eggs are laid (the second egg in the case of a loon), they will be more careful to not let them cool off.  But this early, there is not much concern that the loon is not on the egg all the time.

This is the first time that I can remember an egg being left that long after it was laid.  I would expect that as daylight comes the loons will remember that they have an egg on the nest and will return to it.

With some of the other behaviors we have seen this year, I keep wondering if this is a young and inexperienced pair of loons.  They do not seem to have the smooth surety that we have seen in the past from more experienced loons.  But only time will tell.  I have great difficulty telling one loon from another with any certainty.

I would expect to see the second egg laid within the next two to two-and-one-half days.  But with everything else this year, I will not go out on a limb with a firm prediction.  This seems to be a different year.

I had really expected with the mild spring and the early arrival of the loons that we would have seen an early laying of the eggs.  Instead we are seeing about the latest times that we have ever seen on this nest.

I am sure the numerous and repeated territorial battles earlier this spring may have had something to do with that.

Those battles may not be totally over.

Early yesterday morning I was surprised to see three loons swimming together not too far away from the nest.  The previous evening I had seen what looked like a small loon in the area as what I thought was our pair swam on the other side of the lake.

But yesterday morning, there were definitely three loons swimming together.  There was excited splash diving and circling.  But no calls and no chases.  After several minutes of that excited diving, one of the three loons took off and flew away.  The other two then calmly swam together.

Then after midnight last night, I heard repeated yodels and tremolos.  When I went down to the lake to see if I could tell where they were coming from, it seemed that two of the calls came from a point straight out from the nest.  And an answering yodel from another male loon came  from not too far away.  In the deep darkness, I could not see anything more than what my ears were telling me.

That says that the territorial battles may not be completely resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

But once again, we can only watch and wait.

Let me say a profound thank you to so many of you who faithfully document what you are seeing on the nest and also recording it with videos and still pictures.  It is very much appreciated and it is so helpful to fill in some of the details for everyone else when they are not able to be here.  Including me last night.

On one of the videos I watched last night that was made by one of our faithful viewers shortly after the first egg was laid, the loon left the nest and the egg in a great hurry.


If you look at the video, it is probable that she was scared off the nest by an eagle flying over.  Once again, I was not home so I cannot confirm that for sure but all the signs are there.

If you watch the video, watch for these signs.  The male has gotten up on the nest and is sitting there calmly, but then he leaves the nest suddenly.

You can see the female, as she sits on the egg, tilt her head a couple times and look up into the sky.  Then she lets out a little wail and very quickly leaves the nest.  That is very consistent with the behavior you would expect when a loon sees their mortal enemy, an eagle.

I mentioned that you should watch for the "X" that a loons wingtips form over the top of their tail.  That is the normal position of a loons wingtips.

Now when you see the loon sitting on the eggs on the nest, you will see something different.

When she finally gets settled on the eggs, you will see her lower her wings and place the tips under her tail.  But doing so, she forms a nice insulated barrier that protects the eggs from any cold drafts all the way around.  Then after she has lowered her wings and placed the wingtips under her tail, she lowers the tail on top of them and locks everything in place.  A nice, secure and warm cocoon around the eggs.

Yet one more of the small but amazing things about loons that we see when we take the time to watch carefully.

Now we will wait to see if they come back to the egg and start to take care of it.


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Copyright 2012    Larry Backlund