Wednesday, May 6, 2015 5:10 am CDT

54 degrees     Cloudy     Wind Calm

Sunrise   5:54 am CDT     Sunset   8:26 pm CDT


In the first pre-dawn light of morning, our loon sits on the nest, beak tucked under one wing sleeping.

Everything is quiet as can be.

The lake is like a sheet of glass.

Not a whisper of air moving.  There is a slight foggy haze hanging in the air giving the morning just the right brooding feel.

The first songs of birds start to welcome the approaching morning but our loon continues to sleep.

It has been a long night on the nest.  But the need to protect a precious new egg takes precedence over everything else.

The camera starts to cycle back and forth between night vision and day vision modes as slightly more light begins to appear.  But the loon does not hear or notice that either.

The mate swims nearby as the loon on the nest wakes and looks around.  S/he starts to mew softly.

It has been just over 24 hours since the egg was laid.  This was the first time I have seen an egg laid in the middle of the night like this one was.  I am sure it was not the first time for loons.  Nor will it be the last.

I remember last year when the first egg was laid at the break of day.  Almost exactly this time.  But this year's egg is the first time I have seen one in the middle of the night.

And it is the first time I have seen the egg left alone so long after it was laid.  It was almost 5 hours before the male loon came back to sit on the egg.

Now for almost the next month, our loons will stay on the egg.

One has to wonder what goes through their minds.  

What do they know?  Why do they change behavior in almost an instant?  From being free to swim and dive and fish.  To splash and swim.  To sit in the warmth of the sun.

Then when the egg arrives their behavior changes dramatically.

Now there is a bond with the nest that is so strong, they are drawn to the nest and the importance of protecting that egg and keeping it warm.

Over the next few weeks, the egg will seldom be left exposed for very long.

The loons will share nesting duties.  It has always been thought that they share about equally.  Without the bands, it was always hard to tell which loon was on the nest.  The male or female.  But now with the bands we can know for sure who is who.

Last year was the first year that this pair nested.  They had been together the year before but they did not nest.

The male is the same one that we banded in 2012.  But for some unknown reason there was a change of mates after that year.  And it is the same male but this female was new in 2013.


Once again we have more questions than we have answers.

This female seems to be younger and more inexperienced than the previous female.  She is much more cautious than the male and will become alarmed over things that do not affect the male at all.

There is not much that will frighten the male off the nest.  

But this female will become concerned over seemingly almost anything.  And is prone to leave the nest even when there is no obvious reason or danger.

It is so interesting to watch the difference and personality between the two birds.

She has gotten better but she is still very skittish.  The first summer she was here, she did not want to even get up on the nest.  And they did not lay eggs that summer.  It seemed she was immature and unsure of herself.

But then last summer she laid two eggs.  With the amount of time she was off the nest last summer, there was some concern if the eggs would hatch.  But hatch they did.  The male seemed to take responsibility for the majority of the nesting and care of the eggs.    And we had two healthy chicks last summer that grew into adult loons.

We were able to band her as well as her two chicks last summer.  So now she sports her distinctive green band on her right leg and the red bands on her left leg.

The two chicks are probably still down on the Gulf of Mexico where they will remain for the next two or three years before they come back to Minnesota.

But right now we wait for the second egg.

Deep within the female, that egg ought to be forming even as we watch her on and off the nest.

I would expect that we will see the second egg laid within the next couple days.  Usually there are about 2 to 3 days between the laying of the eggs.  Sometimes a loon will only lay one egg.  Rarely they will lay three eggs.  But since she was able to lay two eggs last summer, I would expect that she will once again lay two eggs this year.

The possibility of thunderstorms are predicted for later this afternoon and tomorrow.  We badly need the rain.  But we don't need any severe weather.

But for now we settle back and watch our loons.

We watch as they faithfully protect this first egg.

And we wait for the arrival of the second egg.


Copyright   2015    Larry R Backlund