Wednesday, June 4, 2014 5:10 am CDT

53 degrees F     Clear    Calm

5:27 am CDT     8:56 pm CDT

Expected Egg Hatch Sometime June 6 - 11

It is still several minutes before official sunrise.

But already the world is waking up.  Birds are singing.  The lake is like a sheet of glass.  Only interrupted here and there where a fish has jumped.

Small wisps of fog drift along the edges of the lake.

The eastern sky has turned a bright pink.

Several families of geese have gone swimming by with their new goslings in tow.  Some still yellow.  Others already gray and at least a foot tall.

Crows are cawing.

I was reminded yesterday about the danger that crows can pose to loon eggs on an untended nest.  Or to any nest.

Crows are notorious egg stealers and eaters.

I watched as several blackbirds loudly chased a crow, dive bombing it over and over.  The much, much larger crow swerved to avoid the blackbirds.

I was surprised when it looked like the blackbirds were actually going to force the crow down into the lake.

But as it touched the surface of the water, I realized it was not going into the water but it picked up something off the surface of the water.

And the blackbirds dive bombed it even more fiercely.

But the crow flew off with whatever it picked up off the surface of the water.

It was then that it hit me.

The crow had stolen a chick out of the blackbird's nest and it wasn't going to lose it, even though it apparently had been forced to drop it in the water as the blackbirds chased it.

It wasn't a pleasant feeling at all to watch what was happening.

But it was a poignant reminder that 'nature' isn't all sweetness and light all the time.  There is a daily struggle for life that goes on.

But the biggest reminder to me was also that the loon eggs are vulnerable to crows and seagulls and other egg eaters anytime the loon does not have them covered on the nest.  I seldom think about crows being a threat to loon eggs.  But they are well known for eating eggs.

Okay, on to more pleasant topics!

This weekend could very well be - in fact probably is - the time when we can expect the eggs to hatch.

And the time we have looked forward to all spring.

To see two little balls of black down.

Unbelievably cute.

Little loons chicks that would melt the most cynical and hardened heart and cause one to go "Awwwwwwww"!

The earliest I would expect to see the eggs hatch would be Friday afternoon.  The latest by next Wednesday, one week from today.  But my best guess would be sometime over the weekend that we may see the hatch.

Let's talk a little bit about some of the signs to watch for that indicate hatching might take place.

Watch for the loon to 'sit higher on the nest'.  I don't know how to even explain that adequately, but I think you will recognize it when you see it.  It is like they are almost sitting lighter on the nest.

Watch for twitches of the loon's wings.  Or even of the whole body.

Twitches that obviously are in reaction to movement under them as the chick first moves inside the egg and then  pecks through the shell.  This process can take up to 24 hours.

It is a very long and exhausting process for the little chick to pip through the thick shell of the egg.  He will peck away and the shell for a while.  And then totally worn out he will stop and rest.  And then peck some more.  And stop.  And peck.  And stop.

Until he finally makes it out.

So you might even see some of this behavior as early as Thursday afternoon.

But especially watch for it on Friday.

And then the reward for the long hours of watching as you finally see the head of a new little chick peeking out from under the adult loon's wing!

At that point, there is no stopping the inquisitive little chick as he crawls in and out from under the adult.

He will be a handful to say the least.

And it is what we have waited for so long.

And especially what the loons have waited for!

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

Copyright 2014  Larry R Backlund