Sunday, May 12, 2019 6:30 am CDT

39 degrees F Clear Wind S 2 mph

Sunrise 5:45 am CDT Sunset 8:32 pm CDT

Just when you think you have seen everything that can possibly happen, you find out that ain’t true!

The good news on this Mother’s Day morning is that we have the first egg on the LoonCam nest!

But there is some uncertainty about everything else.

About 2 pm CDT yesterday, the female was on the nest. She was going through ALL the classic signs of laying an egg.

Minutes before I had just posted an update to this blog of what signs to watch for.

She did the heavy breathing. The raising and lowering of her body. The raising and lowering of her tail. All the signs of contractions.

And then she stopped.

And after a few minutes of quiet she LEFT THE NEST at 2:08 pm.

And there was no egg. I was stunned. I had never seen all the classic signs of an egg on the way. And then the female leaving the nest with no egg in sight.

Shortly after 4 pm CDT I saw her on the nest again.

I was not watching her real close. But when I saw the male get up on the nest with her at 4:18 pm I started watching closer.

Almost immediately she left the nest. And the male moved onto the nest. And he ROLLED AN EGG!

I am not sure when it actually happened. I did not see it being laid. But there it was.

I am 80 to 90% certain that there was no egg at 2pm - although others have said that there was. If someone has a recording of it, I am more than willing to change my mind. But I did not see an egg when she got off the nest at 2:08 pm.

So exactly when it was laid I am not sure.

Until I see video evidence to the contrary, I have to believe that she laid it VERY QUICKLY after she got up on the nest shortly after 4 pm. But I did not see it happen myself. So if anyone has video of it, please share it with all of us so that we know for sure exactly when the egg was laid.

But that was just the start of “when you think you have seen everything”!

The male stayed solid on the egg from 4:18 pm to 5:32 pm. Then he left.

And amazingly the egg sat alone and uncovered on the nest until the female got back on the nest at 5:54 am CDT this morning!

They had been off the nest for 12 hours and 22 minutes!

I have never seen that before.

Usually once the first egg is laid the loons are on the nest 24/7 until hatching - with brief times off for a swim or if black flies are bothering them. But usually they do not leave the egg alone for extended periods of time like this.

For chickens and other birds that will lay a whole clutch of eggs, it is not unusual for them to leave the eggs uncovered for extended periods of time until they whole clutch is laid and they start their more intensive incubation. But I am certainly not an expert even on that.

But in all the years of working with loons, I have never seen them leave an egg uncovered for this long a period of time.

Now I am not real concerned about the egg. Because until the chick actually starts developing, the egg can cool off. Once the chick has reached a certain stage of development but before it can start generating its own body warmth, my understanding is that cooling can kill the chick in the egg.

Last night it got down to 38 degree. Just a nice “refrigerator temperature”. So the egg did not freeze.

And the loons stayed very near the nest at least until it was dark enough that I could not see them anymore.

And then at first light this morning, they were both floating near the nest. Sleeping.

So I assume that they had been near the nest all night long. Even though they did not get up on the nest that I know of.

That is until 5:54 am this morning.

So when we think we know it all, we realize that we know nothing.

And so we sit back and enjoy the fact that we have an egg on the nest. The loons are back on the nest. The ‘disturbance in the force” has disappeared and once again all is right with the world!

Happy Mother’s day to all of you.

And now we wait for the second egg in the next couple days!

Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund