Monday, May 11, 2015 5:56am CDT

47 degrees F     Scattered Rain     Wind 3 mpg NE

Sunrise   5:48 am CDT     Sunset   8:32 pm CDT


We have just had our morning nest exchange.

The female loon has come in and taken over nesting duties and the male has left.

He has been on the nest since 12:42 pm yesterday - a total of 17 HOURS 11  minutes!

That has to be some kind of a record.  Although it has undoubtedly happened somewhere, sometime before, that is the longest I have ever seen a loon stay on the nest at one stretch.

This pair is getting their nest exchanges down to a routine better and better and is doing them more smoothly.

It takes the female a few tries to get the eggs placed just right.  She adjusts them with her beak and  eventually she gets them in just the right spot and settles down on the eggs to keep them warm in the chilly spring morning air.  Rain continues off and on.

A light breeze blows across the nest and our loon.

Loons roll the eggs to get them in just the right spot near the back of their bodies between their legs.

Most birds have what is called a "brood patch".

A brood patch is an area on the birds breast that either does not have any feathers, or has few feathers.  This allows the bird to put that area of bare skin up against the eggs so that it can transfer body warmth to the eggs more efficiently.

Loons do not have this bare skin "brood patch".

Instead they have an area back toward their legs that has a higher than average number of blood vessels.  It is this area where the loon tries to position the eggs so that they can transfer body warmth to the eggs.

So that is why you see them roll the eggs with their beak, trying to get them positioned just perfectly in that 'magic spot'.

When they have them in the right spot, they will settle down on the egg, wiggle and waddle as they nestle the egg against this spot with all the extra blood vessels.

Then watch them do something else.

Once they have settled their body on the eggs, moved their legs, wiggled their rear end back and forth to get the eggs positioned at just the right spot, they will carefully tuck their wing tips down along the nest.  They will cross the wing tips to seal up the space around the eggs so that no cold air can get to the eggs.

And then as a final step, they will lower their tail down over the wing tips to lock everything in place!

It is almost the loon's version of a Thermos bottle!

The eggs are now securely protected from the cold air as the loon transfers heat from their body to help the little chicks in the eggs develop and grow.

One of so many small miracles that our loons do every day.

So now we watch the clock and the calendar for the next 3 weeks or more.

Waiting for what will hopefully be 2 little  black downy balls to emerge from the eggs.  Our loon chicks.  So full of life!

And so full of "cute"!


Copyright 2015 Larry R Backlund

Thursday, April 26, 2012 5:39 am CDT


45 degrees F   Partly Cloudy   WInd  10 mph N

Sunrise 6:06am CDT   Sunset 8:13pm CDT


The fierce wind that you heard late last night has brought in a new weather system with it.

A colder weather system.

After a high of 80 degrees F for the last couple days, temperatures are not forecast to reach more than the mid 50s for the next several days.

There are waves on the lake this morning.  Not huge.  But enough to bounce a boat around.  What we Minnesotans call "walleye chop".  This morning a heavy walley chop.  And enough to bounce the nest around.

Off to one side, not too far away, sits one of the loons in the first light of day.  Ever vigilant.  Ever watching.  Ever ready to defend its hard won territory from all intruders, foreign and domestic.  Whether it be a goose or a muskrat or a beaver or even another loon.

Bouncing on the waves is nothing new for them.  They are used to water and waves and wind.

Last night after dark, there were more yodels and tremolos.

But as far as I could tell, there were no actual confrontations between the loons.

It was one loon hollering across  the lake, "This is MY territory!  You stay away."  And then another loon across the lake answering, "Oh yeah?  Well this is MY territory over here and you just stay where you are."

Hopefully the territorial issue is starting to get resolved and the loons can get down to the business at hand.

That of laying eggs.

From the signs I have seen so far, I don't think an egg is imminent but that could change at a moment's notice.

Before the territorial fights started almost a week ago, I had thought that we were very close to egg laying by all the signs.  But that has changed somewhat over the last week.  But at this stage things could change very quickly.  It is impossible to tell what is going on inside that loons body.  There are probably egg(s) being readied.  But how far along are they?  That is an unanswerable but amazing question.

A loon egg is very large.

Probably equivalent in volume to three chicken eggs.

The USDA classifies a chicken egg as "large" if it is about 57 grams.

The loon eggs that I retrieved off the nest two years ago that were not viable weighed 140 grams and 150 grams.  They both floated so they were lighter than a normal egg would have been.  This was after sitting out for over a month so they  probably lost some of their original weight.

So the next time you make your three egg omelet for breakfast, stop to think that that is about how much egg a loon must produce.  Twice.

It is those eggs we wait to see.


Questions or Comments?   LoonCam(at)yahoo(dot)com

Copyright 2012  Larry Backlund