Wednesday, August 20, 2014 9:57 pm CDT

69 degrees F     Clear     Calm Sunrise 6:20 am CDT      Sunset 8:12 pm CDT

Summer is starting to wind down.

The days are noticeably shorter.  The sun sets sooner.  And rises later.   Since our peak back in June shortly after our loon chicks hatched, we have lost almost two hours of daylight!

It is especially noticeable in the evening with the earlier sunset.  Gone is light lasting until almost 10 pm.

Soon the shorter days will also have an effect on our loons.

The urge to migrate south for the winter will soon kick in.

In the next few weeks the adults will start to move and form large groups called "rafts".  And then the migration will begin.

One of the things that we have learned from the study that the USGS is doing is how important Lake Michigan is to our migrating loons.  We have always known the Great Lakes were important but I am not sure any of us really understood how important.

I had always thought that most of our loons here in Minnesota simply headed south when they left our lakes.  And that Lake Michigan was mainly used by Canadian loons.

But we found that every one of the Minnesota and Wisconsin loons, that had satellite transmitters implanted, headed straight over to Lake Michigan!

Most of them spent 2 or 3 weeks there before they finally headed down to the Gulf of Mexico.

In one of my updates soon, I will give you some of the preliminary information that has been retrieved from the data recorder on our male loon.  I think you will find it interesting.

But probably the biggest thing you want to know is "How are our chicks doing?".

Our chicks are doing great!

They are healthy and active and still growing.

You would not recognize them compared to the little fuzzballs that you say leave the nest just 10 weeks ago.

They are now almost completely feathered out and most of their down is gone.  They do not have the black and white plumage that we are used to with adult loons.  It is a light gray color.  And they will keep this color of plumage for the next 2 to 3 years.

I observed them at length this afternoon as they swam with their parents.

They are able to catch some of their own food now.  And they are able to dive easily for 30 seconds or longer.

But they still will take every fish that a parent offers them.  In fact one of the chicks this afternoon stayed VERY close to the adult and kept begging and begging for fish.  And he hungrily ate every fish that was brought to him.

The chicks will also start their first trial flights in the next couple weeks.

But as I said, the adults will leave here sometime from the end of this month through the month of September.

They will leave the chicks behind.  The chicks will stay for another month after the adults have left.

Then in one of the many miracles of loons, never having been to the Gulf of Mexico the chicks will find the way down there on their own.

It is one of the many times I say, "God, I don't know how you done that but you done good!"

For those of you in the Twin Cities area, Minnesota Bound will be doing a segment about us banding our loons.  It will be this Saturday, August 23 at 6:30 pm/


Copyright 2014   Larry R Backlund