Wednesday, May 10, 2017 5:36 pm CDT

69 degrees F   Sunny   Wind Calm

Sunrise  5:49 am CDT    Sunset  8:31 pm CDT


After a few midday rain showers, the sky has cleared and right now it is once again The Land Of Sky Blue Waters.

A gorgeous evening which is a forerunner of what is supposed to be a gorgeous few days for the next four days.

And what could be better than the fact that our loons are sitting on 2 eggs!

I think that is it.  I would be VERY surprised if there is a third egg.

What is really encouraging is that our pair of loons really seem to be settling into a nice routine.

After several days of eggs being left uncovered for half an hour or more at a time, today there have been at least two nest exchanges between the male and the female loon where the eggs were exposed for no more than 10 seconds!

They are getting to be real pros.

So now we settle in on the egg watch for almost the next month.

As you watch the loons on the nest, let me give you a few things to watch for.

When the loon gets on the nest, the will use their beak to position the eggs just right and then they will 'plop' down on them.  I sometimes worry that they are going to squash the eggs.  But the eggs are really quite strong and have fairly thick shells.

After they have gotten on the nest, it will take them several times of rolling the eggs to get them positioned just right where the loon feels comfortable with the positioning.

Most birds have a 'brood patch'.  A brood patch is an area of bare skin on the breast of the bird.  When they are sitting on eggs, they will put that area of bare skin against the eggs which makes for a very efficient transfer of body heat to the incubating eggs.

Some birds, especially ducks, will actually pull out feathers and down to enlarge the brood patch area.

Loons are different.

They do not have any featherless, bare skin brood patch on their breasts.

Instead they have an area of their abdomen that has a large number of blood vessels near the back of their body.

So when they are going to sit on eggs, they use their beaks to push the eggs back into this area of increased blood flow which gives additional body heat and better transfer of body heat to the eggs.

After sitting on the eggs for some time, they will raise up and turn the eggs.  This helps prevent the developing chick from sticking to the inside of the shell of the egg and helps it develop evenly.

As the loon gets out of the water and onto the nest, it feathers are also wet and that added moisture helps to keep the eggs from drying out.

All of these things are such simple but yet such profound things going on that we never know about nor stop to think about little miracles like that!

One of the other things to look for as the male (he is the one with the green bands on both legs) gets on the nest is for something on his left leg.

Just above the green band on his left leg, you will notice a little silver-colored thing about 3/4 of an inch long and about the diameter of a lead pencil.  That silver-colored object is a "data recorder".

We placed it on the loon's leg when we banded him 5 years ago.  And we have been hoping to retrieve it ever since.

It has recorded where he has traveled, how deep in the water he dove and a number of other items and data.  But we have to retrieve that data recorder to download the data.  So if this pair of loons has chicks this year we will hopefully be able to retrieve all that interesting data that will add to our knowledge about this loon in particular.  And about loons in general.

So watch to see if you can get a glimpse of the data recorder when the male loon is on the nest.

In the meantime, just enjoy the beauty of our wonderful loons and the spectacular weather and blue skies and water for the next several days.

And marvel at the miracle of all of this.  Of being able to watch loons nesting.  And the real miracle of life developing under the loon as it sits there.

That alone is beyond the ability of my small mind to even begin to comprehend!

Someone way greater than me is responsible for that.


Copyright  2017   Larry R Backlund