Friday, June 2, 2017 5:46 am CDT

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




Thursday, June 1, 2017 3:15 pm CDT

84 degrees F   Sunny   Wind Calm

Sunrise  5:28 am CDT  Sunset  8:54 pm CDT


It is a BEAUTIFUL day here today in Minnesota.

Deep blue skies.  Warm temperatures.  And only zephyr winds instead of the gales that we have had so much of.

Both loons have been very faithfully tending to the 2 eggs on the nest.

So far there is no sign of hatching.  Either from the loon on the nest, nor could I see any signs of pipping on the eggs when the loons made the shift change.

But we are ever so close to the expected hatching!

If only we could peek inside the eggs to see what is going on.  Or listen to the possibility of a little loon chick already peeping inside the egg.

But wait we must.

There is nothing we can do to speed it up.  Or slow it down.  It happens on Someone else's time frame.

Tonight at 7 pm we mark the 26 day mark of when the first egg was laid.  Commonly accepted 'wisdom' is that loons incubate for 28 days.  But we have seen them hatch before the 28 days is up.  So this year will add more information to our knowledge about loons.

For those of you who may be new to this whole loon experience, unlike most birds, the little loons do not stay on the nest for very long.  In fact, in most instances they leave the nest and get into the water withing about 24 hours of hatching.

If they want to return to the nest, there is a "chick ramp" just out of sight down below the camera.  But most times when the chick gets in the water, it stays in the water with the parents.  Sometimes the first chick will stay on the nest until the second chick happens, but I have seen every combination of what happens.

The chicks are able to swim shortly after they hatch.  They are called precocious which means they are able to get about on their own very early.

They are not able to feed themselves for a number of weeks.  And so they rely on the parents to bring them their food.  Usually tiny little minnows at first and then larger and large as they grow.

And grow they do.  Very fast.

For the first couple weeks the chicks will ride on the backs of the parents.  That image of the beautiful chicks riding on the adult loon's back is so iconic and special.

By the time they are two or three weeks old, they have already become large enough that it is more and more difficult for them to get on the parent's back.

But even at that point, it will still be necessary for them to be fed by the parents.

So they will stay very close to the parents.  At two or three weeks, they start to try to dive but it is difficult.

They tend to just pop to the surface like a cork.

That is why it is SO important for boaters to watch for loons.  And adult can dive out of the way of a fast moving boat.  Although adult loons are also killed by being struck by a boat or a jet ski.

But a baby loon cannot dive to get out of the way.  And so if a boat is coming at them, they have no way to keep from being hit.

Share that information with your boating friends and neighbors.

But for now, we wait for the first indication of a hatch taking place.

And we especially wait for that first MAGICAL view of a new little loon chick!


Copyright 2017   Larry R Backlund


Wednesday, May 31, 2017 11:04 pm CDT

46 degrees   Clear   Wind Calm

Sunrise  5:29 am CDT    Sunset  8:53 pm CDT


Surprisingly we had some sunshine today, the first in some time.  But the wind still remains.  Hopefully as the systems equal out the winds will also die down.

For the most part, it has been a quiet day for our loons.

There have been a couple incidents of eagles soaring over and causing concern for our loons.  But there was no swooping down on the loons where the loons felt it necessary to leave the nest.

But this morning, we once again had a third loon - an intruder loon - in the area that did cause both loons to go out in the lake and confront the intruder.

For about 10 minutes, there was a lot of circling each other, splash diving and even a couple instances of a penguin dance.  But they succeeded in driving him off.

And the female loon returned to the nest and once again protected the precious eggs and kept them warm.

If only we could see what is going on inside those eggs!

By now, if the eggs are fertile and developing, the loon chick is almost fully formed.

For sure it has had a heart beat for some time.  And it may actually be making its first peeps or sounds from within the egg.  Some researchers believe that the chicks actually talk to each other while they are still in the egg.  And they think that is part of the reason for "catch up".

"Catch up" is when the second chick develops faster inside the egg than the first chick.  The eggs may be laid 2 days apart but then hatch only 1 day apart.

Whatever is happening inside the eggs, we are now within days of hatching.  Not weeks.  And at a moment's notice it could happen.

My best guess is that they will hatch any time between tomorrow and Monday.  I would be surprised if it is tomorrow but it could happen.  But the loons were off the eggs quite a bit in the first few days and I think that may have delayed development.

But we are now down to that VERY CRITICAL time of hatching.

You do not want to miss a minute of it.


Copyright 2017   Larry R Backlund



Tuesday, May 30, 2017 6:17 am CDT

50 degrees F   Cloudy  Wind 9 mph NW

Sunrise  5:30 am CDT  Sunset  8:52 pm CDT


We are getting ever so close to the expected hatch date for our two eggs on the loon nest!

I would expect hatch to take place later this week or this weekend.

Let us hope and pray that the eggs are developing normally and that soon we will see those impossibly cute little puffs of black down, known as newly hatched loon chicks.

Even thinking about it, I once again stand back at this miracle of LIFE!  Life out of "nothing".  But we all know there is Something.  Or Someone.

But the challenges for our loons continue.

The weather just will not break and return to 'normal'.

It has been cold and windy and rainy - it seems like forever.  And this morning is no different.  A cold, biting wind raises waves as it blows off the lake.

But starting tomorrow the forecast is for more sunshine and warmer weather.

So hopefully we should have more normal and beautiful weather in time for the  hatching of our loon chicks.

Already this morning our loons have been concerned and pulled off the nest by an eagle in the area.

I finally saw the video of the 2 fishermen in the kayak who actually hit the nest with their kayak as they were trying to free their lure that they had gotten hung up on the anchor rope of the nest.

My comment about them from yesterday stands.  It is hard to believe that some people can be so clueless and ignorant.  In addition to which, what they did is a violation of Federal law of harassing loons which can provide for a $5,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail in addition to state charges.

I hope if any of you know who they were that you will have a 'little talk' with them.

It is things like that which can cause a nest to fail.

But for now, we chalk it up to - well, I am not sure what we chalk it up to! - and we return to more pleasant thoughts of our expectant parents and little loons.

For those of you who are new to watching the LoonCam and loons, this is such a fleeting magical time.

For unlike most birds that will be in the nest for sometime after they hatch, loon chicks usually leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching, never to return.

The chicks are called "precocious" in that they are able to get around and even swim almost immediately after hatching.

So your chance to see these wonderful, beautiful little chicks is limited to hours or at most a day or two.  And then they are gone.  Whereas with eagles, you can watch the chicks grow for months!

You and and your friends and your family and your kids and grandkids don't want to miss a minute of this miraculous 'play' that is worthy of Broadway!

So grab the kids and the grandkids and the students and the cats and the dogs and tell them that NOW is the time to start watching if they have not already been watching.

In the next day or two I will give you some hints of what to watch for to know that the hatch of the eggs is near or actually underway.  And signs to watch for that will tell you there is actually a little chick under the loon on the nest.

This is the moment that we have all been waiting for!

Don't blink!


Copyright 2017  Larry R Backlund