43 degrees F Rain Windy
Sunset 5:38 am CDT Sunset 8:40 pm CDT
Well, Mother nature did not listen to SIMON very good, did she? We are back to cold and rain and wind. Today we only had a high of 46 degrees F here at Loon Lake!
Overnite there are supposed to once again be heavy storms with a lot of rain. In fact, lightning and thunder and light rain started just a little while ago.
But the eggs are safe and sound right now under one of the loons.
Last night I was a little concerned when, just as it was getting dark, the female loon left the nest and the eggs were uncovered for over an hour in the chilly temperatures and wind. I was especially concerned because the storms were getting close to Loon Lake.
But before the storms came in, one of the loons returned to the nest and safely tucked the eggs under her/him. And kept them safe all through the night and the rain. We got some over an inch of rain overnight. The rain (and even the chilliness) has little effect on the loons. They are used to water … and rain.
Plus it has had a real advantage of keeping away some of the black flies from tormenting the loons..
Many of you have noticed how awkward the loons are as the get up on the nest. In the next few days, I will explain why loons find it so hard to get around on land. They are birds of the water and the air.
But tonight let me explain briefly about the procedure they go through when they get on the nest.
As they awkwardly get up on the nest, they will ‘stand upright’ as they use their beak to try to position the eggs underneath their body. Sometimes it can be quite the productions.
You may have noticed that they position the eggs far back under their body.
Most birds have a “brood patch” on their chest. It is an area of bare skin that becomes exposed when they settle down on their eggs. The bare skin allows for efficient transfer of body heat to the eggs.
Loons do not have a ‘brood patch’ like that.
Instead they have an area at the far back area of their bodies between their legs that has an unusual concentration of blood vessels. They do not have a bare skin brood patch like other birds. But with this increased amount of blood vessels between their legs, they have extra body heat that they can transfer to the eggs.
So they will carefully do the “egg roll” trying to get the eggs perfectly positioned to benefit from this warmth.
Usually they will get back up after a minute or two and readjust the eggs. Sometimes it will take them 2 or 3 attempt before they get the eggs positioned perfectly and they settle down on the eggs..
Once they settle down on the eggs, watch them also do something else. Especially on cold nights like this.
Normally they carry their wingtips crossed in an “X” above their tail.
When they settle on the eggs, they will lower their entire wing and then tuck their wingtips UNDER their tail.
By doing this they create a little sealed “thermos bottle” all around the eggs. Heat is trapped in. COld wind and breezes are kept out.
And to make sure this wonderful warm cocoon is kept nice and tight and secure, they will lower their tail over the tucked in wingtips and by so doing, lock everything in place!
Just another one of the amazing little things our loons do that can so easily escape our notice and attention. Unless we watch closely.
Right now, on a cold evening (with the possibility a SNOW tomorrow!!!), those precious eggs are locked away. All cozy and comfy in the warmth of the loon’s "incubator”!
Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund