Wednesday, May 21, 2014 5:36 am CDT

47 degrees F     Clear     Wind W  5 mph

Sunrise  5:36 am CDT   Sunset   8:43 pm CDT

A loon sits on a nest with two eggs.

All alone but ever faithful.  All through the night.  Carefully keeping the eggs warm in the chilly morning air.

It apparently is the male since it does not react to every little movement around it and go into hangover mode like this year's female seems to do so often.

The other loon is in the area but swimming in the lake well out from the nest.

One of the very interesting things that we have learned this year is how much time this male spends on the nest.  For the first time we are able to know whether it is the male or the female because the male has bands on his legs and the female does not.

I am not aware of any definitive studies on whether the male or the female does more of the incubation duties on the nest.  But I think that the conventional wisdom has been that they share nesting duties about equally, with the female spending slightly more time on the nest.

That sure is not the case with this pair.

The male was the one that did by far the majority of the nest building.

He has also been the one who has done the majority of the incubation time on the nest.

And more often than not, he seems to be the one that has the long night shift on the nest.

I don't think it is enough information to apply it to all loon pairs of whether the male or the female does the incubation.  But it is a very interesting piece of information about this particular pair of loons.

Are they the norm?  Or are they the exception?

Is it because she appears to be young and inexperienced?  Or do males do more of the incubation than had been previously believed?

As always, when you learn one thing, it simply raises a thousand more questions.

Ahhhh, but the joy of learning and always adding to what we know about these wonderful birds.

Speaking of incubation, the "normal" incubation period for loon eggs has always been said to be 28 days.  Some sources have even claimed up to thirty days or even thirty two days.

But most of what was known before the LoonCam was from observations out in the field.  While the observers were very good and very accurate, they were also handicapped by how much they could see while not disturbing the loons.  They did not know exactly when the egg was laid.  They did not know exactly when the chick hatched.

But with the LoonCam, we are able to see everything up close without disturbing the loons at all.  And we know "to the minute" when the eggs were laid.  And we know within a matter of hours of when the chicks hatch.

So the LoonCam has allowed much more accurate observations than ever before.

And the LoonCam has been changing some of the commonly accepted information about loons.

We know beyond the shadow of a doubt from a few years ago that a chick has hatched at 25 1/2 days.  And several hatches have been well below the 28 days.  So you are part of helping to learn even more about loons.

We are over one quarter of the way through this year's incubation period.  Now if we could only have a camera INSIDE the egg to watch the miracle of new life forming!  

The miracle of Creation.

I often wonder about exactly what is going on inside that egg.

And I stand back in amazement.

To think that a 'dead' egg is capable of turning into a beautiful, black, downy, little loon chick in only a matter of days.

Who did it?  Who came up with the plan?  Who carried it out?  HOW did they do it?

Some things are just too wonderful to comprehend!

So today, enjoy the wonder of Creation.  And marvel at it.

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

Copyright 2014   Larry R Backlund