Sunday, June 4, 2017 5:06 am CDT

54 degrees F  Clear   Calm

Sunrise  5:27 am CDT    Sunset  8:56 pm CDT


The first color of morning is just painting the eastern sky with wisps of pink.

There isn't a breath of air moving and so the surface of the lake is like a mirror.  Reflecting the sky, the trees and our loons on its surface.

Right now both of our loon parents are floating peacefully near each other.

One chick has already gone for a swim and I think I see the other one on the adult loon's back in the early morning light.

Our little loon babies have apparently made it through their first long dark scary night!

I still stand back in awe of this amazingly awesome miracle.

And we are privileged to be a part of it and get a little glimpse into the life of our loons and the creation of NEW life.

I was gone most of yesterday but when I got home just as darkness was falling, I could clearly see both of our little loons swimming with the two adult parents.

They were obviously healthy and VERY active.  And wanting to be fed.  Two beautiful loon chicks that looked SO small on such a big lake.  But the parents were right there to protect them from danger and feed them.

Well after dark, I heard the male yodeling.  The yodel is the most extreme of the loon calls and is a strong claim of territory.  Since I did not hear an answering yodel from any other loon on the lake, I assumed that the male was simply broadcasting to anyone and everyone within range of his voice, "This is MY territory!  Stay away!"  And he may  have been teaching the chicks what it meant.

This morning both parents are right there with them as well and so the staking out of territory overnight apparently has worked.

Yesterday was an amazing day.

I have never seen two loon chicks hatch as close together as these two.

The two eggs were laid 2 1/2 days apart and yet they hatched only hours apart - less than 4 hours apart.  There is a thing that is called "catch up" where the second egg develops faster than the first egg.  There are all kinds of theories of why this is the case.

But this was a real case of "catch up".

The second egg hatched in almost exactly 25 days!  This is a new record on the LoonCam loon nest.  It has beat the old record by about half a day!  We continue to learn news things every day.  Historically it has always been believed that 28 days was the incubation period for loons. And that is a good guide.  But with us being able to observe them much closer and more accurately, we continue to rewrite the book of what is known about loons.

And you have been a part of it.

I think part of the two chicks hatching so close together may have been that the loons were off the first egg quite a bit after it was laid and that probably delayed the actual time that it started developing.  And so when the second egg was laid, they were on the eggs more faithfully and therefore both eggs probably started developing about the same time.

So it made for a VERY interesting morning yesterday to see BOTH chicks alive and so active.

I have to be honest that I questioned during the early days of nesting whether the eggs would be ok and that the chicks would hatch.

It seemed like the adults were pulled off the nest so often in some fairly cold weather.  If it wasn't an eagle, it was an intruder loon.  They had one thing after the other to be concerned about and to deal with.

But deal with it they did.  And much better than I.  And so today we have two healthy little balls of black down called loon chicks.

And what can be more special than those two little chicks?  And more bittersweet when we see them jump in the lake for the first time and swim off together with Mom and Dad?

This was also another first.  It is probably the earliest that I have seen both chicks jump in the water.  They both jumped about 9:30am yesterday morning.  That meant that the first chick was only about 8 hours old and the  second chick was less that 5 hours old when they left the nest.

Now they are the waterbirds that they were meant to be!

If you did not see it, here is a link to the video of the chicks making that BIG jump into an even bigger lake.   The jump happens at the 9:57 mark of the video.

But the drama did not come to a close yesterday.  Our close up view of it may have closed when they left the nest.  But now our little loons enter the most challenging and dangerous part of their lives.

For the next two weeks they are especially vulnerable to so many dangers.  Dangers from above and below.

Especially eagles from above.

And from below, all kinds of dangers - largemouth bass, northerns, muskies, snapping turtles, just to name a few.

And from the surface of the water itself, boaters and jet skis that may not be paying attention to our loons.  The adults can dive out of the way of most danger from boats.  

But during these first two weeks, the chicks find it very hard to dive deep enough to get out of the way.  They simply pop back up to the surface like a cork.

So now is a good time to remind your family and friends to be very careful and watchful for our loons and especially the little loon chicks.

By being mindful and protective of our loons, it means that new generations will survive.

And we will be blessed with their beauty and the magical sound of loons calling at dusk on our beautiful northern lakes!


Copyright  2017   Larry R Backlund