Loons on the Lake

Loons are definitely on the lake. The loon census indicated about 20 adults and four chicks. The numbers are actually a bit hard to know for certain because the census is done by a number of people in different “sections” of the lake. Sometimes a loon does not stay in their section the entire hour of the count so they may be counted twice. We need to get the loons to cooperate more in the future.

On another note, please remember to stay a long way from the loon chicks. These pictures were taken from about 50 yards with a long lens and then were cropped so it looks like the photo was taken right next to the loons. If you are trying to get a picture of the loons with a phone camera, you will most likely have to get too close to them. At 50 yards, the loons do not change what they are doing and are therefore not stressed. Also, when viewing them, try to have the loons between you and the shore so they don’t swim into the open lake and risk being hit by motor boats.  30 feet (10 yards) is way too close. It stresses the loons and they have the eagles that are stressing them. They don’t need people causing more stress.

At least two pairs hatched chicks this year and four chicks were seen during the count. Unfortunately, an eagle took one of the chicks that was near the Sister Islands so that pair only has one chick. We like to see eagles but can’t the eagles just stick to eating fish and not loon chicks!

The parents are feeding their chicks but after dives, they often stretch their wings to straighten out their feathers. This loon had been on a long dive and then was stretching….

Below, a parent is escorting the chicks that are about 3 weeks old.

When they hatched, they were gray fluff balls but now their beaks are starting to get longer and they have more downy feathers.

Later in the day both parents were escorting the twin chicks. Periodically, the parents would dive and find a fish to feed a chick but the chicks seemed to be well fed and growing.

If you watch loons for awhile, they do what is called a “foot waggle” and this chick, at three weeks, is practicing that. The little webbed foot can be seen on the right chick.

The chicks also seem to want to stretch their wing muscles and even though there aren’t any flight feathers on the wings, this chick is rearing up out of the water and stretching its wings in the same way that an adult does after it dives.