Monday, May 12, 2014 5:10 pm CDT

48 degrees F     Rain     Wind  NNE 6 mph

Sunrise   5:46 am CDT     Sunset   8:33 pm CDT

What a day!

In something that sort of surprised even me, the loons laid their first egg at 5:17 am this morning!

The sun was not even up yet and the loon was barely visible on the nest.

But after about 10 minutes of "labor", suddenly the egg popped out.  She sat there resting  for about 4 minutes and then she silently slid into the lake.

But then she was off the nest for 46 minutes.  A time too long for me not to get concerned even though I know better than to do that.

When she finally returned to the nest, the male also came to the nest and they mated - while she was sitting on the first egg.

They actually mated twice over the course of about one half hour.

I would expect that she would lay a second egg sometime within the next 2 or 3 days.  Loons normally lay 2 eggs.  Sometimes they will lay only one.  And rarely they will lay 3 eggs.

After she lays the next egg, we then we settle in for 'the long haul'.

The normally accepted figure for incubation of loon eggs is 28 days.  But through observations right here on the LoonCam, we have helped to change some of the conventional wisdom.

Unlike in the wild where biologists have had to make their 'best guess' of when the loons laid their eggs, here on the LoonCam we have MANY faithful eyes watching 24 hours a day and can usually pin it down to the MINUTE.  Such as 5:17 am this morning.  Not 'about' 5 am or 5:30 am.  

But 5:17 am!

And because of being able to closely watch them undisturbed, we have verified hatching in as little as 25 days!

Along with many of you, I become very concerned over many things that I watch.

And I tend to say "Don't you loons know what you are supposed to be doing?!"

Such was the case early this morning when the loon was off the egg for 46 minutes.

Or this afternoon when they were off the nest for exactly one hour!  Under a cloudy sky and a light mist and cool temperatures.

However, I have to keep reminding myself that such behaviour is not all that unusual among many birds.

But it is still hard to watch that lonely egg laying in the nest totally uncovered and exposed to the elements.

Eggs are much more able to tolerate not being under the loon (or chicken or whatever kind of bird) early in the incubation period or late in the incubation period.  The critical time for eggs to be exposed is about half way through their incubation.

As much as I remind myself of that, it is still hard to see them out in the open.  Possibly even vulnerable to seagulls or other predators.

So get a (big) cup of coffee and get some toothpicks to prop your eyes open when you can't tear yourself away from your computer.

And sit back and enjoy "the greatest show on earth"!

Comments or questions?  LoonCam (at) yahoo (dot) com

Copyright 2014     Larry R Backlund