Sunday, May 25, 2014 5:26 am CDT

50 degrees     Clear     Calm

Sunrise   5:33 am CDT     Sunset   8:47 pm CDT

Our male loon sits faithfully on the eggs this morning.

Once again it is him that has pulled the overnight shift, as he has done so often.  He is now at almost 9 hours on the nest since he got on last night.

It is way too early to know if this is the norm or if this loon couple is different that most others.

The conventional wisdom is that loons share nesting duties about equally with the female doing slightly more than the male.  That sure is not the case with this pair.  The male here has been performing by far the majority of the time on the nest.

Plus he is not as easily spooked as the female is.

I see another loon swimming not too far out in the lake, so maybe we will see a change of nest duty soon.

Today is forecast to be another spectacular Minnesota spring day.  Sunny.  Highs in the 80s and little wind.

But there will probably be a lot of activity on the lake on the Memorial Day Sunday as people cannot wait to get out to the lake.

Over the last couple days, a few of you have commented about something floating on the surface of the water around the nest and wondered whether it was mayflies.

No, we have not had our mayfly hatch yet.

What you see floating on the water is the "cotton" from the poplar trees blooming.  This time of year we can have quite a bit of it floating in the air and on the lakes.

Just another one of the signs of spring and of new life.

As you watch our loons today, let me mention a couple other things about the floating nesting platform that you may look for.

In the upper right hand corner of your picture, you may see some "sticks" poking up from the corner of the raft.

These are willow branches.

Although you can only see the bottom portion of the branches, they are about 5 feet tall.  There are also branches on the corner with the camera.  Behind the camera.

These branches are intended to be a deterrent to  keep eagles from being able to swoop down on the nest.  So far through the years they seem to have worked.

There is an interesting reason why I have chosen willow branches.

These branches will actually form roots in the water and by the end of the season of the LoonCam, they will have quite the root ball on them.  Plus they will actually leaf out even though they are growing only in water.

One of the many little details that are meant to help keep our loons safe.

Also, you might look to the left side of the nesting platform.

You may be able to make out what looks like some kind of a rope in the lower left hand corner.  You can see it better when it moves as the raft rocks on the waves.

That is exactly what it is.  A rope.

Some of you may remember a couple years ago when the camera almost went into the lake.  It had been a very windy, wavy day and the nest was really rocking on the waves.  That repeated motion was enough to loosen the camera mount and all of a sudden the whole 'world' was at an angle.

That was one time I had to go out to the nest.  Something I hate to do and try to avoid at all costs.  But it was necessary to save the camera.

I tried to decide what I could do in just the couple minutes that I would have out there.

While I was out there, I pulled the camera back into position and  quickly attached a rope to the camera mount to keep it from going in the lake.  We barely saved the camera.  It would not have been many minutes before it would have gone in the lake and been destroyed.

We have not had that happen before or since.  But the next year I redid the camera mount and I have kept the rope in place for 'insurance'.

For those of you who are new to the site or were not here earlier this year when I mentioned the plants on the nest, the greenery that you see along the edges of the nest is a combination of irises and daylilies.

With the cold spring, they are behind in their growth this year.  But they seem to be coming along.

The plants serve 2 purposes.

They are just meant to add some color and life to the nest and also to give some cover to the loons as they are on the nest.

The roots that grow from the plants also help to stabilize the nesting material and help to keep it from washing away in high waves.

I chose irises for a particular reason.

It is a tribute to a bygone era.

The iris is essentially the French fleur-de-lis.

Back in the 1600s, at the height of the fur trading era, French voyageurs plied the lakes along the Minnesota-Canada border and all the way out to British Columbia and the Northwest Territories in search of furs.  Especially beavers.

Each year they would bring their furs from the winter trapping season to Grand Portage on the North Shore of Lake Superior and trade them for other trade goods that they would bring back to trade with the native Americans for the next year.  And the beaver pelts would go to Europe to make hats.  

Especially in England where no proper gentleman would be caught dead without a beautiful beaver felt hat. The felt made from beaver fur.  And those beavers came from right here in Minnesota.

In today's dollars, it was a multi-billion dollar business.  Long before any of the rest of the country had been settled, these intrepid voyageurs were traveling hundreds and hundreds of miles by canoe trapping and selling furs and trading with the natives.

The route they traveled now makes up the international border between the US and Canada.  And that route is preserved in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

That is a long way to get to the short point I was trying to make.

To this day, there are irises at some of the portages throughout the Boundary Waters, that it is said the French voyageurs brought to the area back in the fur trading days.

So that is why I chose irises to plant on the loon nest!

What more appropriate thing for the Great North heritage?

Loons and irises!

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

  Copyright 2014  Larry R Backlund