Saturday, May 18, 2013 10:52m CDT

56 degrees CDT     Rain     5mph SE
Sunrise   5:39am CDT     Sunset   8:40pm CDT
Today is a perfect day for loons.
Cool.  Rain.  Just a breeze instead of gale force winds.  And no hot sun beating down on black plumage.
So loons are happy campers in this type of weather.
I have not seen the single loon near the nest this morning.  There have been some calls from other parts of the lake but not near the nest.
The loon I saw in the general area of the nest that I saw yesterday looked very good and very healthy.
I had thought that it must be the male from last year since he looked so healthy and large and strong.
But I was wrong.
It is the female from last year!
It has been a hard winter and spring for loons all over.  As you already know, we apparently lost the single chick from the LoonCam last year, probably to an eagle.  Plus we lost one of the chicks from the other pair on the lake due to entanglement in fishing line on a lake in St Paul last fall.
Here is the note that I got from Kevin Kenow from the US Geological Service (USGS) that I got this morning.  Kevin is the lead scientist and researcher on loons for the USGS.  He has done a phenomenal amount of work and research with loons.  Kevin is the person who I worked with 3 years ago when we surgically implanted satellite transmitters in some loons.  And Kevin is the one who led the team last summer that banded 'our loons' and put geolocater tags on them.
Kevin and his team do such a great job in their research on loons.  They add so much to the knowledge of these wonderful birds about which so little is known.
"Hi Larry,
It appears that you observed the Loon Cam female (Right= Y/S; Left=Sgeo/R).  It is odd that the male is not with her by now.  Perhaps he was one of the unlucky ones that didn't survive the many challenges faced by wintering and migrating loons this year....avian botulism, sharks, Red Tide, emaciation syndrome, or icing during spring migration.  Type-E botulism was particularly hard on common loons during fall 2012, with an estimated 1,570 carcasses recovered along Lake Michigan beaches.  I received a higher than expected recovery of geotagged loons from the Gulf of Mexico, apparently the result of exposure to brevetoxin (from harmful algal blooms) and shark attack.  A geotagged loon was also part of a late-winter common loon die off along the Virginia coast.  
If these weren't enough obstacles, loons were caught up in at least two icing events over Wisconsin during spring migration.  Common loon adult average annual survivorship rate typically rungs at about 92%.  It will be interesting to see if researchers note a drop in return rates to the breeding grounds this year.
Best regards.
We have talked before about the many challenges faced by loons (and other wildlife).  It isn't easy for them.
If we needed any more proof of that, this letter from Kevin is a perfect example of what they have to go through.  Things that we never even think about because we are not there to see it.
In many ways, all of us are like that - if we don't see it or hear about it, it didn't happen.
There is so much that goes on around us every day that we are totally unaware of.
We will see what the next few days bring.
The fact that so far she is apparently here alone is of some concern.  Normally the male arrives first or as I have seen, they arrive almost simultaneously.
We will see what the next few days bring.
But for now, we will enjoy what we have.  The beauty of a loon peacefully swimming on a northern lake.  The haunting calls echoing across a quiet lake at dusk.
Life is good.
Copyright   2013     Larry R Backlund