Thursday, May 28, 2015 5:21 am CDT

53 degrees F     Partly Cloudy  Wind Calm

Sunrise  5:31 am CDT     Sunset   8:50 pm CDT


After a long night on the nest, the male loon sits looking around his kingdom.

The lake is like a sheet of glass on a cool morning.

The sun will be up in a few minutes.  But the loon is already up and watching.

One has to wonder if he can sense what is going on inside the eggs.  Is there any sound?  Is there any movement?

We are now within a few days of probable hatching of the eggs.

Here are a few things to watch for.  Signs that hatching may be imminent.

The loon may look like it is 'sitting lighter' on the eggs.  It is hard to explain what that means.  But you will probably recognize it if you see it.

But the surest sign is "twitching".

The loon will literally jump or make a quick movement as the chick tries to make its way out of the egg.

The chick has a sharp protrusion on the end of its beak that is called an "egg tooth".  The entire purpose of the egg tooth is to give the chick a tooth to break out of the egg.  It will go around the inside of the egg and cut through the egg shell.

It is this action by the chick that the loon on the nest is feeling as it 'jumps' or twitches.

When you see that, you can be quit sure that there is a newborn chick hatching under our loon.

This can go on for quite some time.  It is a lot of work for a chick to break through that thick shell.  He will work on it for awhile.  And then take a rest as he is completely exhausted.  And then start working again on breaking through that shell.  All during this time you may see the adult loon 'twitching'.  And then relaxing.  And then 'twitching' again.

They are all hopeful signs that we may see a chick soon.

Even after the chick has broken free from the egg, there may be a period of quiet as the chick lays under the adult recovering.  Totally worn out from the effort.

But then as he recovers from that effort, the non-stop action begins.

You will see the loon move.  Lifting a wing.  Looking around as if to say 'what is under there'?

And then you will get your first glimpse.

A glimpse of a new black downy loon chick that makes you give a reflexive,"AWWWWWWW!"

The cutest little chick imaginable.  Full of life.  Full of energy.  A perpetual energy machine.

The chick will by now be completely dry and downy.

It will peek out from under a wing.  Looking around at the new big world that it has never seen before.

And then it will finally crawl out from under that wing.  And all bets are off.

It will climb up and over and on the parent.  It will peck at the adult and 'peep'.  It will go non-stop.  Until it has worn itself out and just has to stop and rest for a few minutes.  But then it is up and going again.

Waiting for the other egg to hatch.

The second egg will usually hatch within a day of the first egg hatching.

Sometimes the first chick stays on the nest until the second egg hatches.

Other times he will jump into the water even before the second egg hatches.  He is ready to swim from the very first few hours of life.

But for our own peace of mind, we like to see the chick stay on the nest as long as possible.

The lake is a big and scary place for a tiny little loon chick.  There are big fish and turtles that like little loon chicks.  But they like them in the wrong way.  There are birds in the sky on the watch for little loon chicks.

But however long it is before that chick jumps in the lake, it is never long enough for our way of thinking.  We want to hang onto them.  We want to watch them.  We want to go "Awwwwww"!

But loon chicks are meant for the water, not the nest.

And so normally they will leave the nest within 24 hours.

From that time on to be birds of the water.

So prepare yourself for one of the best shows possible as our chicks hatch.  And watch every minute closely.  And enjoy every minute.  Be prepared to have your heart stolen.  To say "Awwwww" over and over and over.

Because all too soon they are gone.

But that is the way nature intended it .

That is what it means to be a loon.


Copyright 2015   Larry R Backlund