Friday, May 29, 2015 7:15 am CDT

64 degrees F   Partly Cloudy     Wind Calm

Sunrise   5:30 am CDT     Sunset   8:51 pm CDT


The clock continues to tick.

We are one more day closer to the hoped for hatch of our little loon chicks.

Oh, to be able to look inside those eggs and know what is going on.  And to truly understand the wonder of what is going on.

If we are to have a successful hatch, it should occur in the next few days.

If it goes much beyond Tuesday of next week, then there would be cause for concern.  But for now we look forward with great anticipation to seeing two new healthy and cute little loon chicks on the nest.

I realized that we have not talked yet this year about why it is so difficult for the loon to walk on dry ground.

So for you veterans of the LoonCam, this will be review time.

But for those of you who are new to the LoonCam, especially so many school classes that have been watching, this will be a fun little game that we will play to better understand our loons.

A few weeks ago someone said 'It looks like the loon is injured' when they saw the loon clumsily and with some difficulty get up on the nest.

What they were seeing is that the loon was built for the water, not for getting around on land.  In fact, a loon is so poorly adapted to being on land, if they were on dry ground far from water they would die.  For they could not take off and fly.  The only way they would survive is if someone rescued them.

A loon finds it difficult if not almost impossible to get around on dry land.

Let's take a look at why this is.

Do this exercise with me.

Pretend that you are a chicken!

Stretch out your arm in front of you.  Go ahead.  If anybody is around watching you, they won't think you are crazy.  Or should I say "loony"!?

Now let's pretend your arm and hand are the leg and foot of a chicken.

Your hand is the chicken's foot.  Spread your fingers and wiggle them.  Your forearm is the chicken's lower leg.  And your upper arm and biceps are the chicken's drumstick.

Now move your arms like you were a chicken walking around.

It is pretty easy to do, isn't it?  You can see how a chicken would walk.  You can move your 'foot' foward and back.  Even from side to side.  If need be, you could probably even run.

That is how a chicken is built and how it gets around.

Now let's look at the difference between a chicken and a loon.  And see why it is so difficult for a loon to walk on land.

Do the same thing with your arms.

Your hand is the loon's webbed foot.  Your forearm is the loon's lower leg, where you see the colored bands that we use to identify the male from the female  And your upper arm once again is the loon's drumstick.

But this time pretend that you have a piece of cloth or a big rubber band wrapped around your upper arm and your body.  That cloth or rubber band holds your arm tightly against the side of your body so that you are no longer able to move it freely.

Now try to "walk" like you did a little bit ago when you pretended that you were a chicken walking.  Don't let your upper arm or drumstick move away from your body at all.  Hold it tightly against your side.

It is a totally different feel, isn't it?

Where it was easy for you to walk when you were a chicken, now it is VERY difficult to walk.  All because you are holding your upper arm or drumstick against your body.

That is exactly what a loon is faced with.

For, you see, the loon's drumstick is totally encased in body skin.  It is held tightly up against the loon's body by that skin.  Only the lower part of the leg is able to move around freely.

And that lower leg comes out of the loon's skin way near the back of its body.

So now you know why a loon has such difficulty walking on dry land.  Remember that each time you watch the loon get up on the nest and try to make its way to the eggs.  It is only able to move the lower part of its leg and its foot.  It cannot move the drumstick at all.

It makes them very powerful swimmers.  But they could never be a marathon runner!

Today keep a close watch for any signs that we may be getting close to a hatch.

I don't expect it to happen today.  But it probably will happen in the next few days.

The excitement builds as we approach the climax of the arrival of our little look chicks!


Copyright 2015    Larry R Backlund