47 degrees F Scattered Rain Wind 3 mpg NE
Sunrise 5:48 am CDT Sunset 8:32 pm CDT
We have just had our morning nest exchange.
The female loon has come in and taken over nesting duties and the male has left.
He has been on the nest since 12:42 pm yesterday - a total of 17 HOURS 11 minutes!
That has to be some kind of a record. Although it has undoubtedly happened somewhere, sometime before, that is the longest I have ever seen a loon stay on the nest at one stretch.
This pair is getting their nest exchanges down to a routine better and better and is doing them more smoothly.
It takes the female a few tries to get the eggs placed just right. She adjusts them with her beak and eventually she gets them in just the right spot and settles down on the eggs to keep them warm in the chilly spring morning air. Rain continues off and on.
A light breeze blows across the nest and our loon.
Loons roll the eggs to get them in just the right spot near the back of their bodies between their legs.
Most birds have what is called a "brood patch".
A brood patch is an area on the birds breast that either does not have any feathers, or has few feathers. This allows the bird to put that area of bare skin up against the eggs so that it can transfer body warmth to the eggs more efficiently.
Loons do not have this bare skin "brood patch".
Instead they have an area back toward their legs that has a higher than average number of blood vessels. It is this area where the loon tries to position the eggs so that they can transfer body warmth to the eggs.
So that is why you see them roll the eggs with their beak, trying to get them positioned just perfectly in that 'magic spot'.
When they have them in the right spot, they will settle down on the egg, wiggle and waddle as they nestle the egg against this spot with all the extra blood vessels.
Then watch them do something else.
Once they have settled their body on the eggs, moved their legs, wiggled their rear end back and forth to get the eggs positioned at just the right spot, they will carefully tuck their wing tips down along the nest. They will cross the wing tips to seal up the space around the eggs so that no cold air can get to the eggs.
And then as a final step, they will lower their tail down over the wing tips to lock everything in place!
It is almost the loon's version of a Thermos bottle!
The eggs are now securely protected from the cold air as the loon transfers heat from their body to help the little chicks in the eggs develop and grow.
One of so many small miracles that our loons do every day.
So now we watch the clock and the calendar for the next 3 weeks or more.
Waiting for what will hopefully be 2 little black downy balls to emerge from the eggs. Our loon chicks. So full of life!
And so full of "cute"!
Copyright 2015 Larry R Backlund