Sunday morning was a beautiful time to pay a visit to the Eastons – the loons in the eastern most pond I visit regularly. The chicks were four weeks old this weekend. Both seem to be doing well.
Our bluebirds have four chicks in their second brood, they should fledge this week. There are at least three chicks from the first brood still around. The like to hunt from the roof of the house, they come and go past my office window regularly.
I’ll be down at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair in August. I’ll have lots of prints of loons and other wildlife and more. Stop by to say hello.
The loons had another visitor before dawn.
A good-sized bull moose was feeding in the shallows of the pond.
The specs above him are flies – either horse or deer. I had impolite words for several that went after me.
His antlers are still in ‘velvet’ – sort of a skin that delivers nutrients to the growing antlers. He’ll scrape off the velvet in late summer, before the rut.
The chicks continue to grow rapidly.
Mom and dad took the chicks into shallow water and showed them how to forage. The chicks can’t dive yet, but can reach down. After a lesson, mom and dad went to work serving up a proper breakfast, mostly crayfish.
The parents will often show the chick the meal, then drop the meal in front of the chick. The chick has to learn how to grab food for itself. I think this is dad showing the chick a crayfish.
Dad dropped the crayfish and watched while the chick tried to catch it.
Success! The chick caught the crayfish.
Our osprey had to work for breakfast. He made five dives without catching anything before heading off over the trees.
After breakfast mom and dad tried to nap.
The chicks gave them a short break before demanding second breakfasts.
I think I’m being chastised. I carry a supply of soda in the boat. When I finish a can, I toss it over my shoulder into the back of the boat. I tossed one and missed without realizing it. I’d padded about 50 yards when dad approached the boat, then veered off towards the can. I promptly went back for it.
Something spooked the loons. I couldn’t figure out what upset them. Mom and dad went off to deal with the threat and the chicks flattened out to be harder to see.
When there’s any sort of breeze that ruffles the water, the chick’s defense is very good. On flat water, they’re more obvious.
Mom on her way to help dad with the threat. They were close to shore of one of the islands in the pond. They made several aggressive dives without my seeing any threat.
The threat neutralized, they returned to delivering second breakfasts. Both parents were bringing food as quickly as they could catch it. Our chick is stretching his leg, they may do this to cool down. Looks like he has some more growing to do before those feet fit.
Second breakfasts finished, the parents took some time to preen. This is dad. He’s wearing bands put on by the Loon Preservation Committee. Banders put four bands on the birds. On the right leg is a silver band with a unique number from the United States Geological Survey. The number is next to impossible to read if you’re not holding the loon. So, banders put another colored band on the right leg and two colored bands on the left. The combination of colors let’s observers identify the loon without having to capture it.
Our osprey returned and made up for his earlier lack of success.
Mom finished preening and gave a good stretch before settling in for a nap.