Friday, April 28, 2017 10:15 pm CDT

38 degrees F   Clear   Wind Calm

Sunrise 6:06 am CDT   Sunset 8:16 pm CDT


Well, today was another quiet, uneventful day on the lake and the LoonCam.


Today was another chilly windy day here at Loon Lake.  But at least we finally had some sunshine and no rain.  


The loons have been on the nest at least 2 times today that I am aware of.  But I was gone most of the day so there may have been more that I did not see.

I don't think there was any mating today.

I got home about mid-afternoon and was out in the garden working on things.

I heard a couple calls from one of the loons.  I immediately said out loud to myself, "Eagle!"  I immediately headed to the lake to see what was going on.  But I was smiling that I was now reduced to talking to myself!

When I got to where I could see the lake, I was surprised to see two mature eagles out toward the middle of the lake hovering just a few feet above the water.

Now I was smiling because I had actually understood what the loon was saying!

 I figured that the eagles had spotted a fish that they were after.

But it is the first time I have ever seen two eagles hovering that close together - within just a few feet of each other and just a few feet above the water.  The white of their heads and tails was brilliant in the bright sunshine.

They hovered for only a few seconds and then flew off together.

As they flew off, another loon started calling from another part of the lake as they flew over him.  He was not at all pleased with their presence.

I looked  toward the part of the lake where I heard the other call to see if I could see the other loon that had called.  I couldn't see it.  But with the waves it is difficult to pick them out.

But just then a loon surfaced very close to where the eagles had been hovering.

I can't say definitively that the loons had actually targeted and tried to attack the loon because I had not actually seen the 'attack' itself.

But that is the one explanation that fits with what I did see.  

I feel about 80% confident that that is what had happened.

There is a long history between eagles and loons that obviously goes back to the mists of history.  That is why loons automatically react to the presence of an eagle but not to much of anything else.

Eagles have been known to take young loons.  I think we may have lost one of our young loons from the Loon Cam to an eagle a number of years ago, but again have no proof of that.  You may remember him.  The little loon that loved the nest and kept coming back over and over, even when the parents did not come back with him.

Eagles have also been known to target adult loons.  I have actually seen it happen several times.  But they have not actually taken an adult loon that I have ever personally seen, although there are reports of that happening.

With the size and weight of a loon, it is at the upper limit of what an eagle would be able to lift.

So once again in this case we cannot be absolutely certain of what actually happened.  Because neither I now anyone else saw it happen.

But an attack by the eagles does fit with what I did see.

One of the neighbors on the lake is convinced that a loon DID injure our male from the LoonCam in 2015 and that that is what finally led to his death.

I had thought that it had been injured by a boat or jet ski.  But I had ruled out an eagle.

However, this neighbor told me a story that makes me believe that it could have been an eagle to injured it and ultimately caused its death.  I was hoping that the autopsy would tell us what the cause of death was.  But they could not determine cause of death.

But here is what the neighbor told me.

He came out of his house one day and there was an eagle sitting in the big tree in his yard.  That was not unsual.

But what was unusual was that the eagle was absolutely soaked and dripping with water as he sat in the tree.

So my neighbor knew that the eagle had been completely down in the water in the lake.

He said about 5 or 10 minutes later a loon came swimming out from under his dock!

Now normally loons never go under docks except under pretty extreme instances.

So my neighbor is convinced that the eagle attacked the loon and was dragged down in the water, the loon had escaped and went under his dock for safety and only came out after he felt it was safe.

This incident occurred only a couple days before our male loon washed up on shore, dead.

And he thinks that the loon was maybe badly wounded and died in the next few days from his wounds.

Once again, we will probably never know for sure.

But it is as good an explanation as anything.

Once again we are reminded that our loons face many challenges every day.  

Most of which we never see nor are we aware of.


Copyright 2017   Larry R Backlund