Posts Tagged: common loons

Loon Chicks Have Hatched

The strong winds over the weekend kept me home – pacing wondering how the loon chicks were doing. This morning, the wind was calm, and when I got to the pond, it was fully five degrees above having to worry about breaking ice while kayaking. I was able to check on two loon families.

First, our bluebirds are back for a second clutch. I’m not going to post daily updates for them this round, just too many things going to keep up with them.

If you’d like to see loons, take a look at the Loon Preservation Committee’s site, they host paddling trips where you visit lakes where they know there are loons with one of their biologists.

All the loon photos are taken with long telephoto lenses and cropped to let me shoot without disturbing the birds.
When I arrived on the pond, I found one adult preening and lazily foraging by itself and couldn’t see anyone on the nest. As I paddled down the pond, I found the second adult still on the nest. But the chicks should have hatched already….

After watching a few minutes, a chick appeared from under a wing….. A little later the second one peek out.

While waiting for the family to leave the nest, the second adult appeared to be hunting ducklings. The loon flattened out like there was a threat , it swam along the brush where a pair of duck families were hiding. The loon would poke into the brush and look around. The mother ducks were not happy.

With the chicks still in the nest, the odds are that one hatched Saturday and the other Sunday. Loons will leave the nest shortly after the second chick hatches. If it is late in the day, they may spend the night on the nest before heading out. The adult on this pond waited for the sun to get almost to the nest before heading out with the chicks.

The adult that had been sitting with the chicks has left the nest and the chicks are getting ready to go.

Loon chicks are voracious. I’ve seen estimates that say a loon family will eat 500 pounds of fish, crayfish and other protein in a season.
The first order of business is to feed the chicks. Both parents will spend many hours feeding the chicks throughout the summer.
The chicks quickly picked up on the way feeding works.

I’m not sure what the parent is offering here. It could be a small crayfish or an insect nymph. Either way, the chicks seemed skeptical. The parent had to present it a few times before a chick took it.

One chick worked up the nerve to try the offering, but promptly dropped it.

The second chick finally took the offering and ate it.

The two chicks on the surface while the parents dive to forage.
One of the parents has just surfaced behind the chicks.

Another delivery of fish as the second parent looks on.
The second adult actually had another meal waiting just below the surface.
The chick settled down and dealt with one feeding at at time.
The loons on this pond last year were partial to feeding crayfish to the chicks. I’m curious if there was an abundant supply of crayfish, a shortage of fish or the parents just had a preference. One of the parents soon presented a crayfish.
The crayfish proved too large for the first chick to handle. The parent tried to give it to the second chick. The second chick couldn’t handle it either and the parent ate the crayfish.
I was able to stop at a second pond before heading home. The loons there had also hatched two chicks. They look to be just a couple days old.
These chicks have mastered riding on the adult’s back.
The second parent brought a fish. This chick has caught on quickly – after dropping the fish, the chick attempted to dive after it.
And, we have to have a stretching shot…..
The chicks pay attention to every move the parents make and will often mirror the adult’s position.

I hope to be able to follow these two families and a third through out the season. To watch them grow, sign up for updates when I add a post.

A Peaceful Morning With The Loons, et al, June 8, 2022

Monday morning was a beautiful spring morning to visit the loons and friends. Provided one doesn’t object to paddling about in 42° weather. Let’s see what I found.

The Adirondack Loon Center is raffling off a Hornbeck Canoe to raise funds for loon preservation in the Adirondacks. Hornbeck boats are beautiful, very light weight boats, worth taking a look.

One of our pair of loons was patrolling the pond and foraging as the sun rose.
A few minutes later, the loon departed on an errand. The pond is surrounded by hills. Often departing loons have to circle the pond to gain enough altitude to clear the hills, giving me an extra change to get in flight shots.
A song sparrow went through his repertoire to greet the morning.
Mr. Oriole was busy hauling groceries to his nest.
A couple mergansers promenaded around the pond.
Even Mrs. Kingfisher was generous enough to hold still for a photo – quite the rare occurrence.
Our loon on nest duty took a break to stretch, preen, forage and nap after a time.
On the surface between foraging dives.
Settled in for a midmorning nap.

More Of The Usual Suspects, May 15, 2022

Last week’s beautiful spring weather let me head out in the kayak six times in various ponds and streams around the area. There is lots of wildlife activity going on, with plenty of photo ops.

A North American porcupine foraging along the water’s edge.

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Geese are still raising a ruckus, though they’re beginning to quiet down a bit as they’ve claimed their territories and have eggs or goslings.
Goslings are still sticking very close to their parents.
A wood duck drake showed himself – briefly – before taking flight.
A trio of mallard drakes pose nicely on a log.
But, every family has that one kid that doesn’t want to pose nicely.
Kingbirds are still sorting out who gets what territory and the number of kingbirds has grown greatly in the last week. Dragonflies have started showing up for the spring, giving the kingbirds nice targets for a meal.
This little olive-sided flycatcher is a deceptive one. He repeatedly called ‘quick, free beer!’ But, not only did he refuse to provide said beer, he refused to dispense beverages of any sort.
I got lucky and noticed a chickadee flying into a hold in a stump at the water’s edge. I got to watch both chickadees as they worked to improve the hole for their nest.
Both chickadees in the pair would fly into the hole and disappear for a few seconds before flying out with some debris they didn’t want in their nest.
A male yellow-bellied sapsucker working his sap line. Sapsuckers bore holes in living trees. They’ll return to the holes to feed on the sap and any insects trapped in the sap.
A swamp sparrow foraging along the shoreline.
There is lots of loon activity on one pond. I think there is a pair that have claimed the lake, but they’ve faced several challengers for the territory. One morning there were eight loons on the pond. So far, I’ll I’ve seen a fairly peaceful dispute. The loons circle each other and occasionally display to try to drive the other loons away. This is enough to settle some loon disputes, other times there can be a fight to the death.
One of the loons displaying.
This is one of the loons that was involved in the territory dispute. It has decided to leave.
One of the loons on the pond came over to have a look at me.
The loon apparently found me not worthy of interest and gave a stretch before heading back to the other loons.
One morning the pair of loons on the pond seemed to be searching for real estate to build their nest. They’ll explore along the shoreline and hummocks in marshy areas. They’ll occasionally poke at the brush, while having a quiet conversation. Eventually, the male will decide on a spot for the nest.
One of the loons with water dripping off his bill after pulling his head out of the water.
What I think is the resident pair of loons on the pond had a peaceful morning foraging on the pond.

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