Monday, May 18, 2015 2:30 pm CDT

48 degrees F     Cloudy   Wind 10 mph WNW

Sunrise   5:40 am  CDT     Sunset   8:40 pm CDT


We have just had a very nice and smooth nest exchange between our loons.

The male got up from the back side of the nest and just sat and waited.

The female did not seem to be in any hurry to leave.  But finally she slowly slid off the front of the nest.  The male moved onto the nest, rolled the eggs and settle down on them, tightly tucking his wingtips  around the back of the eggs to shield them from the chilly wind.

The temperature got down to 39 degrees here this morning.  And it may be even lower tomorrow morning.  There are predictions of scattered frost around the area.  And there was some scattered snow flurries reported in extreme northern Minnesota, up along the Canadian border with possibly more tomorrow.

But for our loons, it is only wind and rain and chilly weather.

But weather that could do damage to the eggs if they are exposed for very long.

This is a very crucial time in the development of the eggs.  The chicks definitely should be developing.  But they are not far enough along to generate their own warmth and heat yet.  So it is important for the parent loons to stay on the nest.

I still have not explanation for what happened Saturday night/early Sunday morning.

Whatever it was, it seemed to be pretty intense.

I thought that the territorial battles were somewhat over and that the territorial lines had been drawn.  But apparently once again the loons saw and understood much more than we do.

It is interesting that loons will establish very defined territories.  You can almost plant surveyors stakes at the boundaries they are so well defined.

I got a call from  a neighbor on the other side of the lake last night.

He verified that the other pair of loons is still here and they have also  nested.  He said the nest is in almost the exact same spot that it was last year.  So I am assuming this is the same pair of loons that we banded and put data recorders on a couple years ago.

If they have chicks this year, hopefully we will be able to capture them later this summer and retrieve those data recorders.  That will give us a lot of information about where they have been and where they traveled.    We tried to capture them last year but were not able to because they did not have chicks last year.

Since you listened to many of the calls on Saturday night, this might be a good time to refresh everyone's memory of what the different calls of the loon are and what the calls mean.

Loons have 4 basic calls: the wail, the tremolo, the yodel and the hoot.

A very good resource for listening to these calls can be found at the the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology's website "All About Birds".  You can find it at  and the recordings of the calls are there so that you can hear what each call sounds like.

Now for the meanings.

The WAIL is a call that loons use to keep in touch with each other.  It is a "I am hear, where are you" call.  I usually divide the calls into 2 'good' calls and two 'bad' calls, although there is not such thing as a bad call.  I simply mean that they 'good' calls mean the loons is not distressed, where as the 'bad' calls mean that the loon is very concerned about something.  The wait is a 'good' call.

The TREMOLO is a call that a loon makes when something is causing them concern.  It may be another loon, an eagle, a boat, a person, an animal - almost anything.  It is one of the 2 'bad' calls since it means the loon is concerned about something.  Both the male and the female loon will make the tremolo call.

The YODEL is the most extreme of the 4 calls.  It is made ONLY by the male and means he is very disturbed about something.  It is often used as a territorial call to warn other loons to stay away from his territory and to tell them that he is ready to fight if they insist on coming closer.  It is the second of the 2 'bad' calls.

The HOOT is a call that almost no one ever hears.  It is a very quiet call that adult loons make when they are close to each other or that an adult will make with a chick.  It is the second of the 2 'good' calls and is just communication at close quarters with not stress or concern involved.

There are two other calls that have not been well documented.

The first is the MEW.  Loon researcher Judith MCIntyre first described the mewing sound some 40 years ago but very little has been written or documented about it.  Much of that has been right here on the LoonCam since you have often heard the MEW from the loons on or around the nest.

The other call that I have seen nothing to document it, has been heard by me often during mating here on the LoonCam.  I am not aware that anyone has ever described it before.  And I don't have a good name for it yet but it is different enough that I would classify it as a separate and distinct call.  I have heard it only being made by the female.  After she has gotten up on the nest, it is a rapid series of 'clucking' sounds made by the female.  It seems to be an invitation to the male to mate.  And I have only heard it used in those circumstances.  Some of you may have heard it as well.

But like I say, I have not come up with a good name for it.  "Clucking" just does not seem to do it justice.  But it does seem to be a very unique and distinct call by the female, different from all other calls.

Once again we are able to observe and hear things on the LoonCam that we have never been able to observe before.

We are well into the countdown to the hatch somewhere around the last couple days of May to the first couple days of June.

You don't want to miss a minute of it. 

Let alone all the drama that happens in between!

Let everyone on your social media know that now is the time to start watching if they have not been watching before.


Copyright 2015     Larry R Backlund