ONE HOUR IN THE LIFE OF A ONE-DAY OLD COMMON LOON CHICK
This is the fourth year, that I am aware of, that these two Loons have been coming back to nest in the same area of The Mississippi. Three years ago, they had been tending the nest for a few weeks when water levels suddenly went up significantly and caused the nest to float away. Last year, they successfully raised two young. I watched and posted their progress for over a three month period, after which they disappeared.
This year, they build their nest a bit further upstream. They started sitting on the nest sometime between May 10 and 15th. I observed two olive-coloured, speckled, eggs in the nest on May 25th when the sitting Loon got off to allow the other Loon to take its two-to-three hour turn at nesting duty.
Early in the morning, June the 12th, I again had opportunity to see the eggs. Image # 1a shows the two eggs. It appeared to me that the egg on the right was developing some cracks, perhaps indicative of the imminent hatching of the first chick.
The first chick hatched sometime between the morning of the 12th and noon of the 13th when I again attended the nest site. At first it appeared that all was the same. One Loon was sitting on the nest (image # 1b), whilst the other was swimming around not far from the nest (image #1). The swimming Loon did not leave the area, which was strange as in the past, the Loon getting off the nest would depart immediately after some stretching to go fishing for dinner. The arriving Loon would go to the nest immediately. I observed the swimming Loon through my binoculars for some time and noted a slight hump on its back when suddenly a little head popped up.
I was fortunate to be able to witness the activities of the swimming parent and of the first hatchling for about an hour. The hatchling was then, according to my best estimate, about one day old. It appeared that the Loon and chick were just swimming around waiting for the other chick and the nesting Loon to join them.
The first chick and one of the adults, however, disappeared before the second chick hatched. They were no where to be seen that evening, nor the following morning. On my return mid-day of the 14th, both adults and young had left the nest site. Image # 22 taken mid-day of the 14th, shows only two empty/broken egg shells left in the nest.
I have not yet seen the second chick. I suspect that they have all gone to an area of shallow water where small fish are abundant and where they can hide in the reeds for a week or two, like they did last year.
The following 25 images (posted over four days or so) illustrate the activities of the first hatchling and of one of the adults over a one hour period when the young chick is about one day old.
Image 1a (above): Two eggs in the nest. (June 12th). The egg on the right appears to be slightly cracked.
Image 1b: Loon sitting on nest (June 13th)
Image 1: Loon swimming around not far from the nest whilst the other adult attends the nest. Note, the Loonís wings are slightly raised.
Image 2: Suddenly, a little head pops up from under Mom/Dadís wings. The first chick emerges and settles down for a comfy ride on Mom/Dadís back.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW