Wednesday, May 24, 2017 6:00 am CDT

46 degrees F   Partly Cloudy   Wind NE 5 mph

Sunrise  5:34 am CDT   Sunset  8:46 pm CDT


The pattern of constant rain and wind seems to have broken for the next few days and we should  should return to more normal temperatures for this time of year ... into the 70s.

The loons could use a break.

The pair has already faithfully made their nest exchange early this morning and the female is on the nest right now.

It is interesting to watch the difference between the two loons.  The male does not let much of anything concern him.  He sits with his head held high most of the time.  I can be mowing or working down in the front yard and he could care less.  I have at times even raked weeds along the shore and he never lowers his head.

One of the few things he reacts to is an eagle.  And if the eagle flies close overheard, he will cry and leave the nest.

The female on the other hand is much more cautious.

If she even sees me way up by the house, she will lower her head.  So I do not go anywhere that she can see me most of the time.  She is not used to me (or anyone) yet. I will periodically  purposely walk to the front of the house or even down in the front yard to try to get her more used to me and more relaxed where she knows she can trust me.

But it is a long process.

She is much more cautious about everything she sees and will go into hangover for the slightest reason.

And if there is an eagle overhead, she will almost surely leave the nest.

I think there is an eagle in the area now because she has been wailing repeatedly and looking around.  And the crows have been cawing repeatedly.  But so far she has stayed on the nest.  At least the eagle must not be flying.

With the return of warmer weather and the hopefully less wind, the bad part of that is probably the return of the black flies which can be so bothersome to loons.

But the black flies are an amazing story in and of themselves.

In what is believed to be one of the most host specific and dependent in nature, this particular species of black flies (Simulium annulus)  feeds almost EXCLUSIVELY on loon blood!  How is that for specialization?  

And dependence!

There was an unusually bad outbreak of these flies in 2014 that caused many loons to abandon their nests.

When the black flies are around, you will see them especially landing on the loon's head.  The loon can only shake its head to try to get rid of them.  Or rub its head on its back to try to dislodge them.

If  that fails, the loon may be forced to leave the nest and dive underwater to try to get rid of them.  Too many times of leaving the nest and the nest fails.

So let's hope that today, there is just enough wind to keep some of the black flies away from our loons.

And that the eagles find other places to hunt.

And that they only hunt fish!


Copyright 2017   Larry R Backlund