Thursday, June 7, 2012 5:43am CDT


62 degrees F     Partly Cloudy     Calm

Sunrise  5:25am     Sunset  8:58pm


The loon has stayed on the nest since 7:30pm last night as he and the chick kept the egg warm.

And now with the first rays of the sunrise streaking across the lake, the mate has appeared with a minnow for the chick.

The chick goes into the water, quickly followed by the adult.  And right now the two parents are catching minnow after tiny minnow to feed our growing chick.  An early morning breakfast for our favorite chick.

There are no obvious changes in the second egg.  But at least it was kept warm and protected overnight.  And the loons seem to have their priorities right in making sure that the little chick that we have is being taken care of.

But today we still wait hopefully for a miracle with that second egg.

This morning is the 28th day for this egg.

The more time that goes by and the more the egg is uncovered in the hot sun, the less the chances are that there will be a successful hatch.  But we have seen miracles before.  Maybe we will see one again with the second egg.  Hope springs eternal.

This morning it is beautiful to see a healthy, active little loon chick being brought minnow after minnow by both of his parents.  He swims from one to the other on the still surface of the lake as he takes each of the tiny minnows offered to him.  And some minnows not so tiny.

Several people have asked if I shouldn't put up some signs in the area about the loons.

That is something that we very carefully considered and decided against.

As we talked about it, we felt that any sign that was large enough to read would be so obtrusive and would never stand against a storm.  And if it was any smaller, it would simply draw people even closer to the nest as they said, "What does that sign say?  Get closer so I can read it."

So we decided to go only with buoys that make a ring around the nest itself.

The parks department was kind enough to post a sign at the public access boat landing that the MN DNR was kind enough to provide for me.  The sign says:

"Loon Nesting Area

(picture of a loon)

Help protect our State bird

-Do not approach loon nests.

-Do not approach loon families.

-Loons are a protected species.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources"

So one hopes that common sense takes over from there.  And for the vast majority of people it does and they are very considerate and very protective of our loons.

In Minnesota,  we tend to take our loons for granted.  And we tend to take our lakes for granted thinking everyone has lakes like we do.  But such is not the case.

On the Minnesota license plates, it says "10,000 Lakes".

But that is a misnomer.  Officially there are almost 15,000 lakes that are over 10 acres in size.  In addition to that, there are countless smaller ponds and lakes.

We also forget how special loons are since we are used to seeing them and hearing them.

Minnesota has more Common Loons (gavia immer) than any state other than possibly Alaska.  We have over 12,000 loons.  The next closest number is a toss-up between Wisconsin and Maine.  Depending on the yearly estimates, Maine has about 4,000 loons and Wisconsin has about 3,500 loons.

Then the numbers drop off dramatically.

New York has 800-1,000 loons, Michigan 400-600, New Hampshire about 400 and Vermont about 200.

Then the numbers drop even further with Montana and Washington having maybe 50 loons each, although accurate estimates are hard to come by.

Most other states have no loons or only see them as they migrate in the spring and the fall.

So we tend to forget how special it is to be graced with the presence of loons and to hear their beautiful haunting call that speaks to something deep within us.  The call that is truly the call of the great wild areas of the north.

The good news is that Canada is still the home of many of our loons.  Estimates place the numbers at upwards of 200,000 loons or more that make Canada home.  This is the majority of Common Loons in the world.

The Common Loon is one of 5 different species of loons.

The one that looks the most like our Common Loon is the Yellow-billed Loon.  As the name implies, the yellow-billed loon has a yellow bill, unlike the black bill of our common loon.  And it is larger than the common loon.  Other than those two features, it is hard to distinguish from a common loon.

The other three species of loons are the Arctic Loon, the Pacific Loon and the Red-Throated Loon.  They tend to be smaller than the Common Loon and have significantly different plumage.  None of them reside in Minnesota although there have been rare sightings of them as they migrate through the area.

It is not a stretch at all to say 'we love our loons'.  And after you have seen them up close on the LoonCam, you can see why.

But we need to be reminded occasionally how truly special they are.

Let me also remind people of the special website from the United States Geological Service (USGS) that tracked the location and migration of a number of loons.  If you have not seen it before, I think you will find it very fascinating and very informative.

Today the forecast is for temperatures in the mid-80s and the slight possibility of rain showers or thunderstorms.  Over the weekend, the temperatures should reach into the 90s.

So we continue to watch the remaining egg and hope for a miracle.

One has to wonder what the loons themselves know and sense.

Why did the loon sit on the egg last night when it left it all alone the previous night?  We may never know the answers.  We can only know the outcome as we wait and watch and hope.  But we also have to be realistic that with each passing hour, the chances for a successful hatch decrease.

But let's continue today to hope for that 'little miracle'.


Comments or Questions?  LoonCamATyahooDOTcom

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Copyright  2012     Larry Backlund