Saturday, June 9, 2012 6:13am CDT


70 degrees F     Clear     Calm

Sunrise  5:24am     Sunset  9:00pm


In a very unusual year, thing seems to keep being unusual.

Once the chicks hatch, usually they leave the nest within 24 hours and from that point on, they are waterbirds.

Our cute little chick seems to be intent on being the first "land loon" ever!

It seems to be our little chick that is taking the lead at times of getting back up on the nest.

When the family has come swimming back by the nest, the chick has several times been the first one to get back up on the nest, even when the parents stay in the water.

Now it is not unusual for loons to make a short visit back to the nest after the chicks have hatched and they have left the nest.  But I have never seen where they have spent this amount of time on the nest after hatching.  And then for it to be the chick that seems to be taking the lead at times is most unusual.  Or is it?

We are never able to watch behavior or loons close up like this in the wild.  Minute by minute.  24/7.

But I must say I have not seen anything like this before on the LoonCam.

A few years ago, we had a situation where one egg hatched and the other egg did not.  The loon kept coming back to the nest to incubate the unhatched egg.  And it brought the chick with it.  For about 10 days, we were privileged to watch that chick grow dramatically.  But then we made the decision to remove the egg that obviously was not going to hatch in order to break the bond with the nest.

Once the egg was removed, the bond with the nest was broken almost immediately and the loons went on with their lives.

In our case today, we have a situation where an egg did not hatch but they loons keep coming back even though the egg itself was accidentally smashed by them and it would never have hatched anyway.

Now I don't think any of us are complaining about being able to see our little chick that has such an amazing spunk and personality.  It has been wonderful and entertaining to watch him.  But there is a part of us that also just wants them to be loons.  And to move on with their lives.

Yesterday on three different occasions, the loons were on the nest for extended periods of time.  And as I said, on a couple of those occasions the chick was the one who took the lead of getting back on the nest and seemingly not wanting to leave.

So we have gone from a situation where the loons left the unhatched egg all along on the nest for several days to where now they do not seem to want to leave the nest.

Do I have an explanation for this behavior?  In a word, no.  It is something that I have not seen before.

So we continue to watch with wonder and learn from what the loons are doing.

Yesterday morning. shortly before 10am, the chick got up on the nest by himself.  He was visible on cam for a while and then wandered off to the left, apparently back in the water.

You could not see what I could see.  When I looked after some minutes, the chick was sitting on the edge of the nesting platform, just out of view of the camera.  Sitting quietly, not moving around.  Content to just lay there.

But what concerned me was that neither of the parents were around.  I couldn't see them anywhere.

Finally I spotted them way over on another part of the lake, probably a third of a mile away.  They seemed to be just swimming and diving for fish.

It made no sense to me.  A chick on the nest.  The parents off seemingly unconcerned.

I started to worry about if they had abandoned the chick just like they seemingly abandoned the remaining egg.  I had to tell myself to quite watching so close and to wonder about every little thing.  But I could not help myself.  What if I had to 'rescue' the chick?  When and why and how?

And then what would I do with it?

I am not aware of anyone ever successfully raising a common loon chick without the parents there.

Fortunately about 15 or 20 minutes later, both parents returned to the chick and they went swimming off together.  And I could relax.  This being a 'surrogate loon' parent is hard.  It is not for sissies!  And it is not something which lends itself to watching too closely.  It is not good for your peace of mind.

But it is so hard to not watch and be concerned about this little beautiful loon chick.

What will today bring?

Who knows!  It has become impossible to predict what this family will do next.

So we can only go along for the ride and enjoy every minute that we have with this little chick who in 6 short days has found his way into our hearts!


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Copyright 2012    Larry Backlund