Sunday, May 1, 2016 11:02 pm CDT

53 degrees F     Clear     Wind NNE 5 mph

Sunrise   6:00 am CDT     Sunset   8:20 pm CDT


Today has been a beautiful spring day here in Minnesota.

After a week of rain, finally we have been seeing some sunshine even if the wind has stayed around.

Almost as if to prove the old adage, I watered the plants on the loon nest since there had not been any rain for two weeks - and within a day or two, the rain started and just would not stop.

But it is so true that April showers bring May flowers.  Lawns are greening up.  The trees are starting to leaf out.  Plants are growing.  And spring flowers are in full bloom.

The forecast for the next week is for many days of blue skies and warm temperatures in the 60s and 70s.  Ahhhhh, the days we dream about all winter long.

But we also dream about loons nesting.

And so far that is not happening here on the LoonCam.

 Other than the one time that one of the loons got on the nest on April 13th,  the loons have not been on the nest.  And they have spent precious little time around the nest.  The loons are still on the lake.  Just not on the nest.

Since ice out I have seen one single loon and one pair of loons numerous times.  However, they are not spending time on this side of the lake.  Just the occasional swim by.

Late yesterday evening, a single loon flew directly overhead sounding his flying tremolos as he went.  I could hear him as he went far to the south.  And finally his call faded off into the distance.

Just before dawn this morning I heard some very loud flying tremolos as a pair of loons came to the lake.  It was dark enough that I could not see them but it sounded like they landed on the other side of the lake.

Loons flying at this time of year does not have any significance to be concerned about.  It seems like they will often fly even when they are actively nesting.  I am not sure why but I would not be surprised if it is just a way of keeping their wings in good shape and getting some exercise.

So hearing the loons flying and calling with their flying tremolos does not mean they are leaving the lake permanently nor does it mean that new loons are coming onto the lake.

I have expected to see a second pair of loons on the lake since we have had a second pair that has nested for several years.  But so far I have seen only the one single loon and the one pair that you also seen on cam.  That is not to say that there is another pair on the lake.  Just that I have not seen another pair.

Normally I am not able to get out on the lake at all while the loons are here.  But Kevin Kenow of the USGS asked me last week if the other pair was on the lake.  So on Friday I was able to take the canoe out and to check the area where they had nested in previous years.

I did not see them nor did I see where they had started to nest if they are around.  I checked where they had nested before and the area around there but there was no sign of any active nesting.

There has to be at least one other male on the lake since there have been numerous yodels, especially at night, with answering yodels coming from another part of the lake.  That could be the male of a second pair or it could be the single loon that I have seen.

As you will remember, the yodel call is made only by male loons.  And it is very much a territorial call made by the males.

So they are very much talking in "territorial terms".  But so far not LoonCam nest terms.

There is still time for them to nest.

But we are rapidly reaching the point where it is questionable whether they will use the LoonCam nest this year.

If we do not see them coming to the nest and spending time on the nest in the next few days, it becomes increasingly possible that the nest will go unused this year.

As I have mentioned since we lost the LoonCam male last summer, it would be a very interesting spring to see what they do.  

I listed three possibilities:  1) the LoonCam female from last year would come back with a new mate and use the nest, 2) a new pair of loons would use the nest or 3) the LoonCam nest would go unused this year.

One of the reasons that we are so interested in the other pair of loons on the lake is that we have not yet been able to retrieve the geolocater data recorder that we put on those loons several years ago.

Those geolocater tags will tell us where the loons have been, including how deep they dive.

We have not been able to retrieve the geolocater tag taht we placed on the female who was our faithful LoonCam female who got replaced by a new female in 2013.

It would be good to be able to retrieve all three of those data recorders to add to our knowledge about the loons.  Especially since these are some of the most observed loons in the world!

I have carefully viewed the video of the loon on the nest on April 13 (thank you Lee!).

But I have not been able to see it clear enough to definitively say which loon it is - other than that it is definitely a loon is banded.

Kevin Kenow has studied the video carefully and he told me he thinks it might be the female that we banded in 2012!  Not the female from last year.  That would be very interesting if the female from 2012 is still around.  But none of us are positive in our identification at this point.

I will let you know if we are able to glean any more information.

But your sharp eyes and your videos help us to identify the loons.

For now, we can only hope that the loons will come and use the LoonCam nest again this year.  In all the years of doing this, there is only one year that the nest was not used.  And that was in 2013, the year that the 2012 female was displaced by a new female.  And they did not nest that first year.  

So it is very possible with the loss of the male last summer that we might face the same situation this year.

But stay tuned.

NO one knows the final chapter of this story.


Questions or comments?  Email us at LoonCam at yahoo dot com.  Because of the volume of email I will not be able to respond personally to each email.  But I will eventually read every one and for recurring questions I will try to answer them here in this blog.

Copyright 2016    Larry R Backlund