Saturday, June 14, 2014 5:34 am CDT

63 degrees F      Cloudy     Wind   2 mph NE

Sunrise   5:24 am CDT     Sunset   9:02 pm CDT

We are now at our longest days of the year.

We may gain another minute or two to the sunset times but these are the longest days of summer for the next couple weeks.

Our loons are already active this morning.

They are out and swimming around.

The two chicks are in the water and swimming back and forth as mom and dad bring them minnows for breakfast.

An eagle flies low over the water near them.

The loons are ever aware and call in alarm with their wails as they watch the eagle.  The chicks scoot a little bit closer to mom or dad for protection. 

A seagull is dive bombing the eagle as it flies into a tree on shore nearby.  Everybody needs to stay on alert.

But the important part this morning is that our chicks are safe and have made it through another dark night on the lake.

The parents have been ever so attentive and protective.  They really have been model parents.  Early on this year I had some apprehension about how the year would go as especially the female seemed to just swim off without the seemingly much concern that there was an important job to do in protecting and incubating those eggs.

But once the chick first hopped on her back in the water, it was almost as if some kind of a switch flipped on for the female loon.  Her behavior changed.  And she has been there with her mate and for the chicks.

The male still seems to be doing more of the close attention to the chicks.  Letting them ride on his back and making sure he sticks with them.  But both loons have been doing a great job of working together.

Yesterday there was a lot of boat traffic on the lake including a number of pontoons, boats and canoes that seemed to be specifically wanting to see the loons.  Several of them came closer than I was comfortable with, but none of them did anything purposely malicious.

Once again it was a case of sometimes we can love our loons too much.

About midnight, one of the carp boats came directly through the buoyed off area between the nest and the shore.  Fortunately he did not cut the television cables or everything would have come to a quick end for the year.

But it is time to bring the nest in and return the use of the lake to everyone else.

I think what I will do is look at turning the camera off Sunday night.  That will give you a couple more days of trying to catch a glimpse of our loons.  Hopefully all the equipment will be safe until then.

And then it is time to bring the LoonCam season to a close for another year.

Today may be a little quieter and more peaceful for our loons.  We have had a little bit of light rain already this morning and the forecast is for rain most of today and through about midday tomorrow.

The rain will keep down some of the boat traffic on the lake and give our loons a break as well.

Nothing is supposed to be severe but I did see several bolts of lightning to the northwest just a few minutes ago.  So it is on its way.

There apparently is another pair of loons nesting on the lake, although I have not been able to get out to verify it.  As of a couple days ago, the eggs on that nest had not yet hatched.

I have to assume that it may be the same pair that we banded two years ago.  But at this point I cannot confirm that.

Hopefully later this summer we can catch all of the loons and retrieve any data recorders off the once we banded before.  That will allow the USGS to download the data off those recorders and to find out where our loons have traveled and what they have done in the last two years.

There is so little that is known of loon behavior during the winter and this will add a lot of information about that part of their life.

We know that most of our loons from Minnesota and this part of the continent go to either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina down to Florida during the winter.  But there is so much that is not know about their behavior on the ocean.

So they see their mates?  Do they see their chicks?  Do they recognize each other or spend time together?  So many questions.  And so few answers.

In one of the most amazing sagas of nature, the adults will leave to fly south anywhere from the end of August through the first part of October.  They will leave the chicks behind.

Then a month later, the chicks will fly south.  Having never before been anywhere except on the lake where they were born and maybe a neighboring lake, they will make a trip of over a thousand miles to their wintering grounds.

How do they do it?  How do they know where to go?  How do they find their way?  Who or what guides them?

All we know is that they do it.  How is a mystery.

It is another of those "I don't know how You do it, but God you done good!" moments.

And then even more amazing is that when the parents return north next spring, the chicks will stay on the ocean for 3 years before they ever come back north!  And then supposedly come back to the same lake they were born on, or a lake very close by.  But there is so much more to learn about their behavior.

But right now, all we need to know is that our little loon family is doing well.  The kids are healthy and the parents are doting and attentive.

That is enough for any of us.

Questions?  LoonCam at yahoo dot com

Copyright 2014  Larry R Backlund