Tuesday, June 5, 2012 5:36am CDT


54 degrees F     Clear     Calm

Sunrise  5:26am     Sunset  8:57am


On a beautiful Minnesota morning, our loon once again faithfully sits on the second egg while it also shelters our little first chick.

Or is it still an egg?  Or has the second egg hatched and is it now a second chick?

We will not know until either the loon allows us to see what is under him or until a second little head pokes out from under a wing.

So once again we can only wait.  We can't rush things.  We can't change things.  We can only observe things.

I have often described the LoonCam as something that is like watching paint dry or grass grow most of the time.  But you can't take your eyes off it while you wait for that one time that something else happens.  Now granted, the loon is the best looking 'grass' or 'paint'  you have ever seen.

But there is something so addictive about watching these beautiful birds that you cannot take your eyes off them for fear you might miss something.

And when we saw our little chick for the first time on Sunday morning, it made all the waiting and watching worthwhile!

A number of people have asked if it is unusual for the chick to return to the nest.

It is not the norm but it is not unusual either.  Until the second egg hatches, if the adults return to the nest, the chick will try to get up on the nest as well.

There is a "chick ramp" that I have attached to the upper corner of the nest behind the irises.  But since the chick has not gotten up at that part of the nest, I am wondering if that ramp was destroyed or torn lose in one of our many storms this year.

Last night I was working outside and I heard the loon calling.  When I went to check to see what was upsetting the loon, I was surprised to see it on the nest since it had not been on the nest for most of the day.  I could also hear the plaintive cries of the chick as it tried to get up on the nest.  When I watched with the binoculars, I could see the chick swimming around the nesting platform and trying ever so valiantly to get up on that big nest.

The male sat on the nest looking, calling, encouraging.

But try as he might, the little chick just could not make it up to join dad on the nest.

Then things went silent.  Both the chick and the adult loon.

My fear whenever the chick is in the water alone is that a bass or a northern or a snapping turtle will see it as a nice snack and will pluck it off the surface of the water.

That happened a few years ago.  Within 15 minutes of getting in the water for the first time, one of our chicks was gone.  Just disappeared.  I did not see it happen but in that case I assume that a bass or a northern or a turtle took it.

So when everything and everyone went quiet last night, my mind returned to that day so long ago.

As much as I looked, I could not see the chick.

But thank you to all of you!  I came in to check the LoonCam on the computer.  And there in chat was word that the chick had gotten back up on the nest.  What I could not see in person, you had seen on the LoonCam.

Faithful viewer rgeegee had captured it all on video.  You can see some of what happened at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OG2ZOT1iCFA

I think you will find it fun to watch.  Thank you rgeegee for capturing it all for us!

So this morning, our little chick sits under dad.  Waitng and anxious for his third day of life to begin.

I do not see the female loon anywhere around.  I am sure she is out on the lake someplace, but I have not spotted her yet.  She is not close to the nest.

Yesterday the second egg was left unattended on the nest for most of the day as the loons spent the day in the water with the first chick.  Feeding the chick and teaching it all the things it needs to know about being a loon.

I have never seen an egg left alone for such long periods of time.

If there is a chick developing inside the egg, I was not too concerned about the egg or the chick getting too cool.  At this stage in its development, the chick is able to generate some of its own body heat.  And with the mild temperatures it should be ok.

Had it been a cold and rainy day, I would be much more concerned about the survival of the chick with the loons being off the nest so much.

Yesterday I was much more concerned about the egg and the chick overheating as it sat in the hot sun than I was concerned about it cooling off.

In all the years of doing this, I have not seen the loons leave a second egg unattended for so long.  

What does it mean?

I honestly do not know.  I don't know if it means anything at all.  Or if the loons sense something that we do not see or sense.

So once again, we can only watch and wait.

The second egg was laid 2 1/2 days after the first egg.  So the 'normal' hatching date, if we judged from when the first chick hatched, would tell us that the second egg should hatch later today.

However, 'normal' is not always normal.

Normally the second egg hatches a little faster than the first egg - a phenomenon called 'catch up'. n The 'normal' 28-day incubation time would not have the second egg hatch until Thursday morning.

So there definitely is still a chance that the second egg will hatch.  

But each day that passes, each hour that the loons are not on the egg, raises concerns about it hatching.  So like so many things, the results are out of our hands.  Once again, we can simply watch and wait.

I hope the loons stay on the nest today.

However, based on yesterday I would not be surprised to see this pair off the nest much of the day.  More unusual activity in this most unusual year of watching loons.  And today I would be much more concerned about the egg overheating in the warm sun than I would be concerned about it cooling off.

Join us and have your friends join us as we wait for the second egg to hatch.

And along the way, enjoy the antics of our impossibly cute first little loon chick!


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

Copyright  2012     Larry Backlund