49 degrees F Clear Calm
Sunrise 5:28 am CDT Sunset 8:54 pm CDT
Once again it is a beautiful, calm, clear Minnesota Morning for our loons.
The first rays of the morning sun have just cleared the trees on the lake shore and are touching the nest and gilding the plants and the loon faithfully sitting on the nest.
It has been a long time for the loons to have to leave their beloved lake to sit on 'dry land'. Today is Day 27.
But hopefully their sacrifice and their long hours and days sitting on the eggs will all be worth it. Hopefully it will mean a new generation of loons. Hopefully it will mean two new little loon chicks.
Our curiosity cries out, "WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THOSE EGGS?"
But like so many wonderful things in life, it still is not the right time for us to know. All things in good time.
And so we watch. And wait.
Watching for some sign that a new loon life is trying to make its way into the world. For some sign that the chick is pecking its way through that touch shell that has protected it as it developed for the last 27 days.
We are told that as the chick starts to make its way out of the egg, it will first use its tiny beak to cut its way through the membrane at the large end of the egg where there is an air pocket. It will cut all around the membrane inside the egg (what I have started calling 'zipping').
The chick at this point is likely to be able to make sounds. Sounds that the adult loon can hear. And sounds that the chick in the other egg can hear. Once again experts tell us that the chicks will actually talk to each other while they are still in the eggs.
The chick has a sharp protrusion on its bill called an "egg tooth". This is what it uses to literally cut its way out of the egg. The egg tooth disappears shortly after the chick hatches.
After the chick has cut its way through the membrane inside the egg, it may have to rest for awhile. That is hard work.
It will work for a while, and then rest. Work for a while and then rest.
But after it has finished cutting through the membrane all around inside the egg, it then begins to work on making a hole in the egg shell itself with that 'egg tooth' on the tip of its beak. That egg tooth is surprisingly sharp.
Making the hole in the shell is what is called "pipping".
So the whole process I have started to call "ZIP AND PIP"!
While all of this is going on inside the egg, the adult loon can hear and feel some of that action.
And that gives us our first indication that the hatch is actually underway!
Especially as the chick cuts a hole in the eggshell, the PIP, the adult loon may feel that movement and poking of the tiny beak and the adult loon will 'flinch' slightly. The loon will rise up a little bit. Or you may see the wings flinch a little bit due to the actions of the chick as it tries valiantly to free itself from the egg shell.
The very egg shell that has protected it so many days as it developed, has now become too confining for the little loon. And it wants to get out and be free of this protective prison.
It wants to start its new life out in the big world.
So as we near the actually hatching of the egg, watch for those subtle little signs that something is happening under our loon.
The little flinches of the wings and body. The slight 'rising up' once in a while. All signs that the hatch is actually underway.
This whole process may take several hours for the chick to make its way out of the egg. And then it will lay totally exhausted for some time. Still wet and worn out.
But soon its down will dry. It will regain its strength. And then it will start moving around under our loon. Anxious to see this wonderful world that it has struggled so mightily to make its way into!
Who can describe the wonder and EXCITEMENT for us when we get the first glimpse of that beautiful little loon chick peeking out from under the wing of the adult loon for the first time?!
Today could be that day!
Copyright 2017 Larry R Backlund