65 degrees F Sunny Wind 4 mph NW
Sunrise 5:56 am CDT Sunset 8:42 pm CDT
It is a spectacularly beautiful Minnesota Morning!
Bright sun. Blue sky. Pleasantly cool temperatures. Light breeze. And low humidity.
And BLUE MOONS.
What could be better?
Right now there are 4 huge white birds out on a blue lake with small wavelets stirred up by the breeze.
What are they?
They are four huge white pelicans!
They probably won't stay. But pelicans do stop over on the lake periodically. On their way from where to who knows where.
They are beautiful birds and surprisingly large birds. One of the largest birds in North America. They can have a wing span up to 10 feet and weigh up to 20 pounds!
Normally they would be much further north this time of year, even up to the Arctic Circle and across the Canadian Prairie Provinces.
But it is a privilege to have them periodically stop here on the lake which they have increasingly done over the last few years.
But you didn't come here to learn about white pelicans.
You want to know about loons. And one loon in particular.
That little loon chick from the LoonCam is doing well.
In fact, it doesn't even seem right to call him a 'chick' anymore. Probably the term 'juvenile' would be more appropriate.
He is almost full size and now has the characteristic profile of a loon.
He will be 9 weeks old this coming Monday. It is hard to believe how fast time has flown and how he has grown.
Almost all of his fluffy brownish gray down is gone, replace by sleek feathers. Still gray with slightly lighter spots that foretell the beautiful white spots that he will one day have on his deep black background feathers.
He dives with ease and quite possibly is catching some of his own food. Although he still relies on his parents and eagerly accepts any fish they bring him.
The three loons still stay close to each other most of the time. Relaxing. Swimming. Preening to keep their feathers waterproof and in good condition. Foot waggling. And times of intense feeding where there is dive after dive for fish.
And always on the lookout for danger, especially eagles.
Early yesterday morning at sunrise I had gone down to the lake to see if I could spot the loons. Sure enough, there they were. Not too far away. They were feeding.
As I turned to go back up to the house, I heard their 'unique' call that I have come to know as the 'eagle alarm call'.
It is so hard to describe as to what differentiates it from other calls. But it is a call when I hear it I know almost with certainty that an eagle is around. It is most similar to the WAIL call that you all know so well. Or a variation of the wail.
But it is shorter. More truncated. Not as melodious. With a slight rise in pitch at the end.
I am not sure if I could argue that it is a separate call from the 4 commonly accepted calls. But it is different. And as you know we have documented other calls such as the 'mew' that are distinct from the 4 basic calls.
And this "eagle call" almost always signals that the loons have spotted an eagle.
When I heard them make the call [just once], I stopped and looked around to see if I could see an eagle nearby. I didn't see one.
But then in the early morning sun a huge shadow passed over me, the dock and the water below.
I looked up and not more than 20 feet above my head was a mature bald eagle illuminated by the morning sun and silhouetted against a deep blue sky! His white head and tail feathers almost glowed in the bright morning sun Made even more spectacular with the blue of the sky in the background.
I almost felt like I could reach out and touch him. Like I could count every feather if I had the time. I could see him looking down at me.
It sent chills of wonderment down my spine.
The eagle continued on his flight and flew up into a large tree along the lake at a neighbor's place a number of doors down. A tree where they seem to like to perch as they watch for prey or where they may fly with a freshly caught meal.
The loons had made only the one 'eagle call' because the eagle was moving away from where they were. They signaled 'danger' but only while the danger was there. And since the eagle moved on quickly, they relaxed and resumed their quest for fish.
There is so much more to tell you of loons and eagles and swans and pelicans and monarch butterflies and countless other things.
But some of those things will need to wait until later.
There is too much to do and too little time to do it.
But life is wonderful.
And I hope that wherever you are, you stop and marvel at the Creation that is all around you.
We take it so for granted in the busyness of our lives. We never stop long enough to actually see it.
Whether it be a loon or an eagle or a pelican. Or the marvelous detail of a flower and its petals. Or the butterfly that visits the flower.
But how refreshing it is to our very souls when we stop and look and listen and watch with wonderment the marvels of nature God has placed around us.
May your soul be refreshed today!
Copyright 2015 Larry R Backlund