33 degrees F Cloudy CalmSunrise 7:51 am CST Sunset 4:34 pm CST First of all and most important, MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you! And for those of you who may not celebrate Christmas, Happy Hanukkah to you or just best wishes. Here in the "Great White North", it is anything but white. While we had a BIG snowstorm here back in November, most of that snow has now melted and it looks like we might have a 'brown Christmas' here. That is something that we Minnesotans are not used to and do not like. To us, Christmas just should be 'white'! For the last week we have had unusually mild weather for this time of year. And most of the snow from the November storm has melted. Now all that is left are the snow drifts and along the roads where the snow plows have built up rows of snow. The lake is still frozen in spite of the mild weather. We had enough cold weather in November that there is not much danger of the lake opening up. There are a few fish houses out in the middle of the lake and many more to come when the temperatures drop, as they inevitably will. And hopefully all of our loons are now safely ensconced on the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Coast. I would encourage you to check out the USGS website to track the juvenile loons that Kevin and Steve and Luke implanted with satellite transmitters back in August. You can see exactly where they have been and where they are now. It is fascinating to watch their movements. And Bob has done such a great job of updating the map. You can find the map to track the juvenile loons at:http://www.umesc.usgs.gov/terrestrial/migratory_birds/loons/migrations.html
This is the first time that we will be able to follow the movements of juvenile loons! So little is known about loon behavior during the winter. But even less is known about juvenile loons. So being able to follow their movements promises to add immeasurably to the body of knowledge of what we know about loons. No doubt you will remember that it is commonly believed that when the juvenile loons migrate south [and amazingly they find the way down south on their own!], it is believed that they will spend the first 2 or 3 years of their life on the Gulf of Mexico before they once again come back to their homes on the lakes of northern forests. Now we will be able to watch and learn. Last summer there was a pair of juvenile loons on the lake here. So obviously this pair came back "before they were supposed to". It is very interesting to me to see that 2 of the juvenile loons are hanging out way over along the Texas Coast, even as far south as Mexico. That is further west than most of the loons go. Why did they decide to go over there? Surprisingly they were both hatched on the same lake! What made them go further west than all the other loons? Is there some connection that it is those two loons and not the others? Are there more loons than what we thought that spend time over in that area? So many questions and so few answers. Enjoy watching and learning with all the rest of us. As most of you know, loons cannot stay here when the lakes freeze over. They need up to a quarter mile of open water to take off. If they do not have open water, they are trapped. They will die unless someone rescues them. We had a situation like that a few weeks ago. A juvenile loon did not take off. The ice started forming on his lake. Inexorably the ice grew and grew. And the area of open water where he could swim grew smaller and smaller. Day by day it was becoming more desperate for him. If he did not fly away, he would not survive. And now the small area of open water had become too small for him to take off, even if he tried. Things had gotten desperate. Fortunately a family was watching his plight. They contacted authorities and got permission to attempt a rescue. Even the rescue was dangerous because of the possibility that they might fall through the ice. But rescue him they did! And they brought him to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for treatment. You can read some of the story here:. Loon rescued from icy lake http://www.parkrapidsenterprise.com/content/loon-rescued-icy-lake
Enjoy reading the heartwarming story.
On this, one of the shortest days of the year, we look forward to the days now beginning to lengthen. And then before we know it, the ice will start to melt and once again our beloved loons will grace us with their presence. And their beauty and their haunting calls. But for now, we enjoy this special time of year with the warmth of family and friends. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours! Questions or comments? LoonCam at yahoo dot com Copyright 2014 Larry R Backlund