Monday, June 9, 2014 5:35 am CDT

55 degrees     Partly Cloudy     Calm

Sunrise   5:25 am CDT     Sunset   8:59 pm CDT

It is a cloudy morning and even though the sun has just risen, there are no rays.

The male loon still sits on the nest with chick #2 safely protected and warm under him.

The female is feeding chick#1 right alongside the nest as she hoots rapidly, a sound I have not often heard before this year and before this female.

Then at 5:32 am, the male decides it is time for him to leave the nest and he dives in.

Without a moments hesitation, chick #2 follows and makes the big leap into the big unknown!

The four of them swim together.

As if on cue, drops of rain begin to hit the nest and the camera housing, creating the familiar "ping".

It is as if tears are falling from the heavens.

Tears of joy!  Joy for our loons.

And tears of sadness!  Sadness for us that so quickly we lose them.  Being able to watch them so very closely.

The nest now looks so forlorn and lonely!

Once a place a new life, it is now just broken shells and cattails.  So sad and dead.

BUT a yellow iris is starting to bloom!

Just in time to announce the birth of our two loon chicks as they head out into the great unknown of a new life!

With a combination of loud wails and tremolos, our loons seem to want to announce to the world that they have two brand new baby chicks and they are heading out into the great unknown to start a new life together!

[Excuse me for the delay.  I had to take a break from writing to watch the scenes unfolding before us!  And maybe a few tears.  I guess some dust got in my eyes.]

Our little family of 4 loons now starts its new life together!

As we have talked about so many times, our view of them is so fleeting.

The chicks don't wait around for no one!

They hatch and then usually within 24 hours they are in the lake.  From that point on, they are waterbirds.  That is their element.  Not land where it is so difficult to get around.

But even that is an amazing thing to watch.

The little balls of fuzz don't have much trouble getting around on land.  They don't walk necessarily.  They almost hop or bound.

But it will not be long before land is a 'foreign place' to them as well.

For a little bit, all 4 swam fairly close to the nest.

The female even got back up on the nest to inspect it while the 2 chicks anxiously circled the nest waiting for mom.

She sat.  She adjusted.  She got up and "rolled" the empty shells.  And sat down again on them.  A process that she repeated several times.

And then as if she was satisfied that she had taken care of everything, she went out the front door and locked it behind her.

There were mouths to feed.  And kids to take care of.

It has been amazing to watch the change in the female especially over the last 24 hours.

Once she had been 'afraid' of every shadow, even her own.

She was ready to leave the nest and swim away for any reason.  Or no reason.

But once that chick first jumped up to ride on her back, it was as if some kind of a switch had flipped.

She stayed near the nest, never going far.  She fed chick #1.  She let him ride on her back most of the time.  Her behavior changed almost immediately.  It was as if  "Oh, I get it now!  This is what this is all about!"

And the male continued to do yeoman's duty on the nest, spending long long hours there incubating the egg.

Until we finally saw the head of the second chick peek out.

There had been glimpses of a 'beak' or a 'head' or 'something black' as early as 4 pm or 4:20 pm.

But at 4:49 pm a chick's head clearly came out from the backside of the male's left wing and stayed there.  So in my own notes I put 4:49 pm as the official time for the new chick.  But we know that he had been working his way out the egg for hours before that.

We know at 1:30 pm there had only been a dime sized (or less) pip in the egg.  So sometime between then and 4:49 pm, the chick had fully made its way out of the egg and had dried off.

And he laid with just his head poking out of dad's wing for many minutes, just resting.

But we had a second chick!

And all of us could breath again.

About 9 pm, the male suddenly left the nest and there was chick #2 all alone on the nest.  Both the male and the female started a long chorus of wails and tremolos and even yodels from the male.  I saw no threat anywhere near.  It was as if they wanted to announce the birth of their second chick.

I was afraid the female would dive and leave the first chick on her back behind.  She did not.

The male returned to the nest after a few minutes and hooted to the second chick on the nest as he swam in front of the nest.  I was afraid that he was going to coax the chick into the water.  And I wanted to the chick to stay on the safety of the nest for the night.  And of course I knew better than the loon!

"Fortunately" the chick stayed on the nest and the male got back up on the nest and safely tucked him under his wing.  And there they stayed for the night.  While the female stayed nearby with chick #1 safely under her wing.

When both chicks were in the water together, it was time to see if there would be the "pecking order" fight.

There was one, but it was not bad at all.  It was short and not very violent.  I was thankful for that.  With that out of the way, now the chicks could move on as best friends.

So now a whole new chapter begins.

One that we unfortunately are not able to be privy to like we have when the loons were on cam where we could watch them closeup.

It is that bittersweet time of year.

Sheer joy for our loons and their two new chicks.

Sadness for us that this chapter is over for another season..

I will leave the camera up for a while so that you might try to catch a glimpse of "our" loons.  But I must be honest and warn you, do not expect to see them like you have seen them for the last month.  At most, you may catch a far away glimpse once in a while.

Now watch them prove me wrong like our nest-loving chick did in 2013 as he came back to the nest over and over and over.  But that behavior may have been his undoing.

The chicks belong in the water.  

And that seems to be exactly where these two chicks want to be.  It took chick #1 only a few hours to get in the water.  Chick #2 waited 'a full 13 hours' before making his first jump.

I will try to keep you up-to-date periodically here on the blog to let you know how they are doing.

Let me say once again THANK YOU!

Thank you for being an amazing group of people who have truly bonded yourselves into the "LoonCam Family"!

Your kindness and your well wishes are humbling.

For those of you who are in the Twin Cities area, I will be speaking at the Isanti County Historical Society in Cambridge, MN on Wednesday, August 13th at 1pm.  If you can come, I would like to meet some of you faithful LoonCam watchers in person and put a face to a name.  I am sure if you just Googled Isanti County Historical  Society, the information will be posted there.

Once again, THANK YOU!

I will keep posting here periodically.  But the posts will gradually get further and further apart, just like our sighting of the loons here on the LoonCam.  And then after some appropriate period of time, the LoonCam will be shut down.  

Until NEXT year!

Questions or Comments?  LoonCam (at) yahoo (dot) com  Or just leave your email address for possible updates of what is happening.  Or especially announcements for when the LoonCam goes live next year!

Copyright   2014      Larry R Backlund