Loon Chicks at Five and Six Weeks

Two of our loon families chicks are now six weeks old, the other family’s chick is five weeks. Let’s check in to see how they’re doing, as well as seeing what a few other critters are up to.

I’m going to miss posing next week, I’ll be down at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair in Sunapee. I’ll have lots of new prints and cards, I’m in booth 725, stop by and say hello.

And, yes, yes that bee hovering above the swallow from my last post did survive to buzz another day. Apparently, I should have added that to the caption…. Surprising how many people were concerned for the bee…

The Weston’s remaining chick (on the western pond I’m watching) is doing well. There was an intruder in the neighborhood again, the parents were alerted and searching for him. I didn’t see any interaction with the intruder and the chick made only brief appearances while mostly hiding in the brush. There were a few other animals around.

Hank Heron was on duty in the marsh before dawn.
A handful of painted turtles took took some time to bask.

I made three visits to the Eastons before getting good conditions for photography. The first two mornings were peaceful, this morning they faced an intruder.

There are several families of ducks on the pond, the ducklings are growing up.
As are our loon chicks. They’re growing real feathers and will soon be in their winter plumage. These are the chicks that are six weeks old.
The has been a pair of great blue herons on the pond all season. In the last week, we’ve added two more. They appear to be adults, I suspect they’re this year’s chicks.
The herons seemed to be vying with each other to pick the best spot for photos this morning.

A tough call, but I think this one picked the best spot.
One of our chicks was sleeping in when I arrived on the pond.
The sibling was taking advantage of not having a line for breakfast. The parents were busy feeding it before the sun came up.
Mom and dad are foraging, our chick is awaiting the next course for breakfast.
Shortly after sunup, an intruder flew in. Mom and dad went to challenge him, our chick flattened out to hide. (I’m guessing the intruder is a male, our home team male is the more aggressive challenging the intruder.)
The home team and the intruder ‘circle dancing.’ Loons will circle each other to size each other up.
The intruder didn’t take the hint that the pond was occupied and dad stepped things up. Wing rowing is an aggressive display to drive the other loon off.
Wing rowing is when loons propel themselves along the water with their wings, while calling.
Changing direction is accomplished by dipping one wing in the water.
After a time, the intruder was chased to the far end of the pond. Dad returned to the chicks to resume breakfast. These chicks can now make real dives, I clocked them underwater for over 30 seconds at a time several times this morning. But, they’ll still depend on the parents for food for several weeks.
Adolescent loons will pester their parents to be fed by nibbling on the parent. Mostly they nibble around the parent’s neck. I wonder how they learn this behavior. Certainly the parent’s don’t teach it to them….
Pestering paid off, dad resumed foraging for the chicks.
The chicks are learning to preen – to clean and straighten their feathers. Loons need to sort through all of their feathers regularly.
Loons have a uropygial gland at the base of their tail. This gland excretes a waxy substance that the birds used to keep their feathers waterproof. Reaching the gland and rubbing all of a loon’s feathers requires a bit of contortion.
Dad has finished preening and goes up for a good stretch.
And so does our chick….

The intruder stayed at the far end of the pond for the remainder of the time I was on the pond. I’m looking forward to getting back up to visit them again.

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3 Comments

  1. Reply
    Ben Collier August 1, 2022

    I just love your photos, and share them with my grandchildren regularly. Thanks!

  2. Reply
    Rita Pitkin August 1, 2022

    Really nice photos. I lived on a beaver pond in West Glover for seven years. I loved it there. Learned a lot about loon behavior. This brings back great memories of sitting on the porch for hours watching them. They nested just off the shore on a large tussock.

    It changed my life!

  3. Reply
    Roy & Sharon Weaver August 2, 2022

    Very much enjoy your photos, nature is amazing! We were out on the nearby lake to take loon chick pics this week, and take in the beauty.
    Thanks!

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