Saturday, May 24, 2014 5:26 am CDT

54 degrees F     Clear     Wind Calm

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

Once again, it is a spectacular "Minnesota morning" on the lake for our loons!

There are just a few ripples on the water.  The pink of the impending sunrise gilds the eastern sky.

Birds are singing like there won't be time to sing later.

And our faithful male loon is still sitting on the eggs, waiting for new life to emerge.

We are not quite half way through the incubation cycle.  But already new life is stirring within the eggs.  Oh to be able to see the miraculous changes that are taking place inside those eggs.

But like the loons, we will have to just wait.

But unlike the loons, we are not the ones who must be ever aware and ever faithful in making sure the eggs are warm and taken care of.

Last night the male loon had to contend with the carp fishermen coming by at least two times.  They did keep a respectful distance from the nest.  But their lights did not.  The male loon stayed on the nest and surprisingly the very bright lights do not seem to concern him all that much.

And when I say "bright lights", I mean bright lights!

The boats have their own generators and huge banks of lights on three sides of the boat.  They literally light up the whole shoreline almost like daylight.

But our male loon seems to take it all in stride.

He has once again put in about a 12 hour shift overnight.

I am not sure how the female would react if it was her on the nest when the carp fishermen came by.  She continues to be very reticent and shy about any movement or activity.  She is probably the most "shy" loon that I have ever witnessed.

About 8 pm last night, there was a "war of words" between 'our' pair of loons and another pair of loons on the lake.

Yodels and tremolos were tossed back and forth over and over as they challenged each other.

Fortunately, it was just a war of "words" and not an actual physical battle.  The two pair of loons never came near each other.  They just called back and forth and said, "Oh yeah?!  So's your momma!"

This might be a good time to review what the different loon calls mean so that you know what they are saying when you hear them.  Whether that be here on the LoonCam or when you are at a northern lake that has loons and have the joy of listening to them.

For those of you who are new to the LoonCam, you may have never heard a loon call.  And for the rest of us, it is a good refresher course in "loon talk".

Once you have heard your first loon call in the wild, it is something that never leaves you.  That haunting call is so magical it can send chills up and down your spine.  And every time you hear it, you are transported to a wilderness campsite on a lake or to a cabin on some northern lake where you have heard the magic of a loon calling at sunset.

I don't think there is any other call in the world that has quite the same hold on our spirits as that of a Common Loon.

It is the call that made Katherine Hepburn say to Henry Fonda, "Come here, Norman.  Hurry up.  The loons!  The loons!  They're welcoming us back!" in the movie On Golden Pond.

There are 4 basic calls:

  1.  The wail.
  2.  The tremolo
  3.  The yodel  and
  4.  The hoot.

I usually divide the calls down into 2 and 2.  Two 'good' calls and two 'bad' calls - even though there is no such thing as a 'bad' call.

I call them that because 2 of the calls are simply loons talking to each other.  The other 2 calls are alarm calls.  Calls that they make when they are concerned or something is wrong.

The wail and the hoot are 'good' calls while the tremolo and the yodel are 'bad' calls, or calls of alarm.  You can actually hear all 4 of the calls at  [Just replace the (dot) with an actual dot.]

  1.  The wail - The wail is a call that loons make to say "I am here.  Where are you?"  The call carries long distances over water and allows the loons to keep in touch with each other even if they cannot see each other.  The first cell phone!  It is a 'good' call and it is made by both the male and the female.

  2.  The tremolo- The tremolo is a distress call.  The loon is expressing his concern over something or someone.  When one loon tremoloes, usually there is an answering tremolo from other loons on the lake.  At night, this can be so haunting as you hear the calls echo back and forth across the lake.  It is a 'bad' call because something has upset or caused concern to the loon.  Both the male and the female make the tremolo call.

  3.  The yodel- The yodel is also a distress call.  ONLY the male makes the yodel.  Often he is staking out his territory on the lake.  He is saying "This is my territory.  Don't you come near."  The loon will stretch out his neck parallel to the water as he makes the call and then move from side to side while he is making it.  That way he broadcasts the call over a wide are.  And believe me, you will hear it.  It is loud.   The call carries not only across the lake but to adjoining lakes in the wilderness.

  4.  The hoot- The hoot is a call that most people have never heard.  It is the quietest of the 4 calls and is used between the two adults when they are close to each other or between the adults and the chick.  Because it is so quiet and unlike any of the other loon calls, most people have not heard it or do not recognize it.  It is a 'good' call.

So now you know what the loons are saying when you hear the different calls.  And you can impress your friends and your family with being able to "talk loon"!

The next couple days will be very busy days for our loons.

The weather is supposed to be sunny and nice and in the 80s.

After the long, hard winter that Minnesotans have endured this year. everyone has "cabin fever" and wants to get outside and especially get out on our beloved lakes.

So we will probably see a lot of fishermen and other boat activity all weekend.

Hopefully the loons will be able to take it in stride.  I am sure the male will, but I have questions about the female.

But whatever today brings, enjoy it!

Pour yourself an extra cup of coffee and sit back and enjoy "The Greatest Show On Earth".

A show for which you have ringside seats!

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

Copyright 2014   Larry R Backlund