Friday, June 8, 2012 6:28am CDT


67 degrees F     High Hazy Clouds     Calm

Sunrise  5:25am     Sunset  8:59pm


Two families of geese slowly make their way as they swim along the shore.

And out there, just over by the swimming raft, floats our loon with a chick on its back.

Birds sing their morning songs in the background.

It is a peaceful scene.  But so much has changed from yesterday morning.

Where yesterday morning there was an egg in the nest.  An egg that still held the hope for new life and another little loon chick.

This morning that nest is so empty and so barren looking.

For those of you who were not here last night, there was a strange conclusion to a strange season on the LoonCam with so many things that were so different.

Last night shortly after 7pm, out family of loons with the little chick decided to pay a visit and swim by the nest.  Everyone was so excited to see them again.

One of the adults decided to get up on the nest one more time.  It even had a minnow in its beak as it climbed up on the nest.

As usual it awkwardly plopped down on the nest.

But then it saw the chick swimming by the edge of the nest and immediately went back in the water.

However, when it left, everything on the nest had changed!

When it left the nest, what we now saw was a splotch of yellow next to the egg.  But the egg looked different, too.  It looked 'deformed'.

And it was.

When the loon plopped down on the egg, the egg had collapsed and its contents had squirted out onto the nest.  The pale yellow that was a mixture of egg white and egg yolk.  Thoroughly mixed and cooked in the hot summer sun.  Like a custard instead of distinct egg white and egg yolk.

There was no sign that a chick had ever started developing in that egg.

It apparently had been infertile from the beginning.

And no amount of sitting.  No amount of incubating.  No amount of waiting was ever going to produce a chick out of that egg.

So just before dark, when the loons were well away from the nest, I went out and gathered up what was left of the egg for possible analysis.  We will see if there is anything that can be learned from a squashed egg.

As I retrieved the remains, I could not help but think about and marvel at the difference between the two eggs.

Let me give you a challenge.  Here is your assignment.  Here is an egg yolk and an egg white.  Do with it what you will.  Your assignment is to make something out of it.  

What are you going to make out of it.  Will you make an omelet?  Will you make an egg over easy?  Will you just look at it with complete lack of any idea what to do with it?

What if I told you to make a loon chick out of that egg white and egg yolk?  Where would you begin?

Once again it brings home the miracle that we have witnessed with the first egg!

Who put that little loon chick in that egg?

A beautiful little black downy chick that is cute beyond words.  So full of life.  So full of spunk.  So full of wonder and curiosity.

Who formed every one of those strands of the fine soft black down on the chick?

And Who formed white down on the tummy of the chick?  And never got one strand of white down mixed up with one strand of black down.  Who numbered every one of those strands of down?

Who formed that cute little head that would bob all over?

Who formed the beak that pecked at everything in sight, including dad?

Who formed that deep black eye that beheld everything with wonder?

Who put those impossibly big clown feet on this cute little loon chick?

Who gave it a heart to beat and lungs to breathe?

Who put exactly the right muscles in the right place?  Muscles that enabled our little loon chick to scamper from one place to another.  To go in under dad's wing on one end and almost immediately appear out the other side?

Who put those cute stubby little wings in that egg?  Wings that flapped as the chick moved around.

Who told the chick exactly what he should do when mom or dad brought a little minnow and offered it to him?  Who told his body how to make energy out of that food of a little minnow?

Who designed this miracle?  This little 'toy' that moved on its own.  This little marvel that had a mind of its own?  How did they come up with the concept in the first place?  And then how did they execute that concept?  How did they make all the pieces fit together so perfectly and so miraculously?

How did they put life itself in that egg?!

I would look at the egg yolk and the egg white that had been given to me and not have a clue of where to start or what to do with it.  Other than eat it.

Never in a million years would I be able to put together this little loon chick from ingredients so simple and so common.

Never in a million years could I come up with the concept and design let alone be able to build that design.

And yet in 26 short days, Someone did just that.

Where I would just make a mess of things like the yellow mess that we saw splattered next to a broken egg shell on the nest, Someone else would make a cute little black ball of down that had personality that would not end.

That had curiosity that was unbounded.

That had LIFE!

Once again it is a profound reminder of how little I know.  Of how limited I am in what I can do.  Of how helpless I am when it comes to creating something out of nothing.  Let alone creating life itself.

Some choose to see it as "just nature".  I choose to see it as a miracle.

All I can do is stand back in awe and wonder.

And marvel at this miracle that we call 'life'!


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Copyright  2012   Larry Backlund