57 degrees F Light Rain Wind NNE 6 mph
Sunrise 5:24 am CDT Sunset 9:03 pm CDT
15 hours 39 minutes daylight
This loon season has been one for the books on so many levels. Let me try to briefly summarize.
After a late and chilly spring and a slow start by our loons, they finally settled into their own routine.
They laid two eggs and hatched two chicks. The first chick hatched a week ago yesterday and the second chick hatched a week ago today.
But from there on it became a season like no other that we have seen before.
Because of the many storms that pummeled the nest this spring, some of the nesting material washed away and set a ‘trap’ that was totally unknown and unpredictable.
The first chick unfortunately fell into that area that washed out and got himself stuck in an area that could not be seen. And I thought we had lost him.
When the second chick hatched a week ago today, he left the nest within 30 minutes of hatching - much earlier than I had seen before. But he seemed to be healthy and active and things were looking good that we at least we had one chick that was doing well.
I fortunately and surprisingly found the first chick in the area where he got stuck. I was able to rescue him after he had been stuck there for 30 hours and bring him in to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for care.
But in what shocked all of us, the Chick #2 also got stuck in that same area of washed out nesting material!
I was able to quickly rescue him as well and reunite him with his parents and they swam off. Another disaster seemingly prevented.
But after watching and hoping for the last several days, I am afraid that I am forcing myself to come to the conclusion that someway, sometime, somehow we have also lost Chick #2.
The last time that I can confirm I saw Chick #2 was Monday evening. I have watched since then hoping beyond hope that he was under a wing and out of sight when I did not see him.
Yesterday afternoon both loons came in and swam around the nest. In fact in something unusual, they swam in from the nest almost up to shore. Normally they do not come that close in. They were not alarmed or acting unusual in any way. But they came in much closer than normal.
I remember thinking to myself, “Well, it is good that they still feel safe coming back to the nest and being in the area in spite of me having to go out to rescue the two chicks.” That had been my greatest concern - that I had broken that seeming bond of trust with the loons.
If that had happened, it would have been heartbreaking for me. But my feelings are unimportant in the whole scheme of things. What is important in the long run is the loons reaction to and memory of what has happened with their nest.
If loons have a nest failure, research seems to show that they remember that. And they may look for a better and safer nesting site in the future.
So I am hoping that the fact that they have come back to the nest several times over the last week means that they are still accepting and trusting of this site. If they are, that bodes well for next year.
But as the loons slowly swam away from being up close to shore, when they got out past the nest and the buoys, both loons dove underwater.
I had been hoping and trying to convince myself that there might still be a ‘bump’ under the wing of one of our loons that sheltered and hid Chick #2.
But when they dove, there was no evidence of any chick with them.
So reluctantly I have come to the conclusion that we have probably lost Chick #2!
I have no idea what happened to him or when. Was it an eagle? Was it a fish or turtle? Was it something else. I don’t know. And will probably never know.
Chick #2 had been our hope when we thought we had lost Chick #1.
Now Chick #1 (who I called “Resurrection”) is our hope for this season! He is alive and well at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. And hopefully they will be able to raise him to the point where he can be released back into the wild and survive on his own.
As most of you know, I normally have never named our loons, although I do not object if anyone else does it. I have never tried to name them since I can’t tell one loon from another. Their coloration and markings are usually so similar that it is impossible to distinguish one loon from the next. Although I have found through the years that as one really gets to know them, there are personality differences. But they are not definitive enough to tell for sure.
But with the advent of banding, we have been able to know which loon was which if they were banded.
As I drove home from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center last Sunday afternoon after I had taken Chick #1 in there for care, the name “Resurrection” came to mind. We lost Chick #1 on Friday. And found him alive on Sunday!
It just seemed to fit. I hope no one considers it sacrilegious. No one else has to call him that. But in my own mind I may remember him by that name. It seems appropriate and reminds me of all the events surrounding him.
I had planned to announce today that I would probably shut the LoonCam down tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon about 2pm. Why then?
That is about the time that I took Chick #1 (“Resurrection”) to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. I thought it might be a fitting tribute to him.
But earlier this morning when I got up, the LoonCam was down. No big deal. I thought I will just reset it, as I have had to do numerous times before. So I reset it. But it didn’t reset. I reset it again and again .And still nothing. There is something else happening and I am not qualified to figure it out. And with it being the weekend, it will be difficult to get technical people to look at it.
I had wanted to give you warning of when the LoonCam would go dark for this year. But apparently that will not happen.
So this maybe a fitting end to this unusual season!
With that, let me once again say a heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every one of you for once again watching the LoonCam! It is a joy to see and hear your reactions to our beautiful loons.
I will try to keep you updated on what happens with Chick #1 (“Resurrection”).
Remind your friends and family to care for and protect our amazing loons!
In the words of Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol”, “God Bless Us, Everyone”!
Copyright 2019 Larry R Backlund