Friday, May 24, 2013 9:10pm CDT

58 degrees     Rain     Wind Calm
Sunrise   5:33am  CDT     Sunset   8:46pm  CDT
A gentle rain falls on a northern lake as darkness falls.
There are only gentle ripples on the surface from the faintest breeze.
Far out in the lake two loons call.  Probably a pair, since one is yodeling and therefore must be a male and the other one is tremoloing and could be either a male or a female.  But I do not hear an answering call from elsewhere on the lake.
The male that was yodeling is obviously telling anyone within earshot of him, "This is my territory.  Stay away."  The two calls are too close together for it to be two males.  I think it must be the male and female of one pair.
I have not updated you much because there has not been much to update you on.
The single loon, presumably our female from last year, still comes to the area of the nest but only rarely.  I have seen no attempt to approach the nest let alone get up on it.  I have not seen another loon with her.  Regretably it is beginning to look more and more like something may have happened to the male from last year. 
It was always thought that loons mated for life.
Thinking on that has undergone minor changes over the last few years.  While it seems that most loons do indeed mate for life, the bond to a specific territory may also play a role in determining the mate.  Or if one of the loon pair dies, the remaining loon may find a new mate.
But whatever the reason, our female from last year seems to be without a mate this year.
I have talked to a number of people who have observed loons that are already nesting.  Some of them on eggs for well over a week already.  Some loons in lakes further north than our loons have already mated and are apparently sitting on eggs.
Even some loons out in New England who normally nest a month later than our loons have already established nests.
I know that this is news that none of us really want to hear.  But the possibility of 'our loons' not nesting on the platform this year may now be approaching more of a probability.  If that is the case, this will be the first time in ten years that loons have not used this particular nesting platform.
But as with all things, we must keep things in perspective.
Many nesting platforms are never used.  I have been very fortunate to have had the nesting success we have had for so many years.  This year may be the year that breaks the pattern of success.
It is a great reminder of all that we take for granted.  We take for granted that a pair of loons will use the nest.  We take for granted that all the technical equipment needed to bring the pictures to you will work without a hitch and that nothing will fail.  We take for granted that there will be two eggs.  We take for granted that out of those two eggs we will see two beautiful loon chicks burst forth.  We take for granted that those little chicks will grow into healthy, strong adult loons.
But nature isn't quite that predictable or kind.
The challenges to raise one loon chick to adulthood are immense.  And it is probably good once in a while that we are reminded of how difficult it is.  Even to the point of possibly losing the adult male of a breeding pair.
So even in difficult circumstances we learn.
I will keep you up to date as we decide what to do over the next few days.
Once again, let me tell you how wonderful you all have been and are.  You are so grateful and you take many opportunities to expresss that gratitude.  That is so much appreciated and it makes it all worthwhile.  Even as we consider what to do this year, you have been so understanding and supportive in the midst of difficult choices.
I understand your concerns.  I have the same concerns.  We all want to see a pair of loons nesting and two beautiful little black downy loon chicks.  But I also appreciate your understanding of how wonderful the neighbors have been in their support of this 'project' for so many years and have willingly limited their activities while the loons are nesting.  But we need to be fair to them as well so that the support will be there in the future.
For now, we listen to the gentle pitter patter of the rain.  The beautiful calls echoing across the lake as the loons call back and forth.  And the very rare sighting of an actual loon this year.
For those of you here in the United States, may you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with family and friends as we remember those who have given so much that we may have the freedoms that we enjoy but too often take for granted.
Copyright 2013     Larry R. Backlund