Posts Tagged: new hampshire wildlife

One Loon Family Still Here

Dawn yesterday found a cloudless sky and with the temperature here on the hill at 32°, I figured I could get the kayak around the pond. I headed north to check on the Westons. This is the family that faced intruders for several weeks in the spring. They hatched two chicks and one survives and is 15 weeks old.

I’ve got a couple appearances coming up. Wednesday October 26, I’ll be at the Bugbee Senior Center at 1:00 p.m.with my slideshow An Uncommon Look at the Common Loon. The show is open to the public, see the details on their site: https://www.bugbeecenter.org/activity/special-events/bugbeetalks/.

There’s a photographic print version of An Uncommon Look which I’ll be hanging at the Kellogg-Hubbard Memorial Library in Montpelier on November 1. It will stay up until November 30. I’ll be giving An Uncommon Look at 6:30 p.m. on November 9 at the Library. Free and open to the public.

And, I’ll be at Craft Vermont November 18-20, 2022 at the DoubleTree in South Burlington. Come on by and say hello.

When I got to the loon’s pond, the sun had yet to hit the tops of the trees along the west side of the pond and it was a refreshing 29°. There was only the slightest trace of ice along the shore, no problem for a kayak.

While I was launching the kayak, I noticed what looked to be a large hawk land in a tree towards the other end of the pond. Too far away for a good ID and with the loons talking I headed out to find them.


There were two loons on the pond. One I suspect is mom, the other is our surviving chick. When I found thems, they appeared agitated. They were swimming back and forth, fairly rapidly and making low hooting calls. After I watched for a few minutes, it occurred to me to check that hawk out. It turned out to be a juvenile bald eagle. One of the residents on the pond told me earlier that a young eagle had been harassing the chick. The eagle is at the top of the tree just right of center.
After a time, the eagle flew off to the north. The loons started foraging, but still appeared agitated.

A little looking around found a second immature bald eagle watching the pond.

A few minutes later, this eagle took off and made a couple of low passes over the loons. Both loons dove in plenty of time. The eagle settled on a new perch. The eagle that had flown off to the north reappeared – coming in like a husky hearing me unwrap a piece of cheese.
The loons kept a eye on the eagles – and kept talking about them – while they tried to forage.

I suspect that’s mom in front. My guess is based on not hearing the adult loon yodel. The male on the pond this year was not shy about yodeling at eagles or most anything that moved along the shore. Our chick is a male, he tried a couple of yodels that didn’t impress the eagles. Note that mom has pretty much changed into her winter plumage.
Our chick is just about as long as the adult, but isn’t yet at full adult weight.
The eagles took another leisurely flight over the pond. The chick took off wing rowing.
With the eagles out of sight, the chick took a moment to stretch.
But the eagles weren’t done yet. They reappeared and one made a dive at the chick.
The chick was prepared…..
And dove rapidly. I’m impressed by the speed. My camera takes 10 images a second. The chick was entirely submerged in the second frame after having been sitting mostly still in the first. After missing the chick, both eagles headed out of sight to the north.
The chick is capable of foraging for himself now. But that doesn’t stop him from from encouraging mom to feed him.
With the eagles gone, the loons had time to forage and to let me get good looks at them. Here’s a good look at our chick.
And a good look at mom.
Our chick foraging on the shadowed side of the pond.
And pestering mom to provide a meal.
And we’ll close with a couple shots of the chick stretching.
The loons are likely to stay on the pond until the ice starts to form. Mom is likely to leave first, the chick following a week or 10 days later. They may make a stop in a warmer pond and stay until the ice starts to form there. Eventually, they’re likely to head for the coast between Maine and Cape Cod to spend the winter. The parents will return next spring, the chick won’t be back until they’re ready to raise his own family. Depending on who tracks the loons, that will be somewhere between two and five years. This is likely the last time I’ll knowingly see this chick. I wished mom a good winter and the chick a long healthy life before I headed out.

Checking in on the Loon Families

I had a chance to check in on two of our loon families this weekend. Let’s see what’s up.

The Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton, MA, is this coming weekend, October 8, 9& 10. I’ll be there in booth 220 with lots of photos of loons, owls, fox kits and other critters.

Friday morning, after scraping ice off the windshield, I headed east to check on the Eastons. This is the family that last I saw them, the chicks were practicing takeoffs, but were not yet airborne. This pond is almost 2,000 feet above sea level. The loons usually depart from this pond much earlier than the nearby ponds at lower elevations. This year, I wondered if fish were scarce; the parents seemed to feed the chicks more crayfish than other loons and in the last couple visits, the parents delivered only a couple fish of any size. Anecdotal evidence from fisherpeople also suggests that fish are scarce, but when has anyone fishing complained of there being too many fish?

One loon flew over the pond about half an hour before sunup, and that was the only sighting for the day. The loons have moved on. They’re likely to have moved to a lower pond where they’re likely to stay until the ice starts forming. Once the ice appears, they’ll head to the coast.

Our heron was around to give me the consolation prize.

One of our herons was hunkered down and fluffed up. Not too surprising, it was 34°F when I put the boat in.

He’d picked a spot that got early sun. He seemed more interested in warming up than foraging.
Getting started for the day with a big yawn.
After a time, he headed out, choosing a flight path with through the sun with deep shadows behind.

This morning, I visited the loons to the west, the Westons. Their pond is much lower, about 870′ ASL. And, much warmer, at 47 when I arrived. There was one adult and the surviving chick on the pond. The chick is 13 weeks old this weekend.

One of the residents on the pond tells me that the chick has had a busy week with an juvenile eagle repeatedly harassing him. No sign of the eagle this morning, but I wasn’t out long.

Our chick is nearly grown up and dressed for the winter.
The adult on the pond has started to change into winter colors. The other adult may have already headed out for the season or could just be visiting a nearby pond for the morning.
The chick is capable of foraging for itself, but is still willing to take a meal from the parent. Here’s the chick popping up from a dive.
And here’s the chick pestering the parent to be fed.
Our chick has learned to fly! He(?) took a quick flight over the south end of the pond this morning before setting back down.
While the chick has learned to fly, his landings still need work. He approached the water at a steep angle and made quite a splash as he hit. Looks like he forgot to pull his nose up too.

Anyone have a bear coming after the last of the apples?

Loon Chicks at 11 Weeks

This pair of loon chicks is 11 weeks old this weekend. There was thick fog on the hill this morning when I checked the weather. Hoping the loons would be above the fog, I headed out. We went from fog to haze before a beautiful day broke out. The chicks’ big project continues to be to learn to fly.

I’ll be down at the Capital Arts Festival in Concord, NH September 24 & 25 with lots of wildlife photos and note cards. Come by and say hello. The event is free, much of the activity is on Main Street. You can find the details here.

Our loon family was spread out across the pond, sleeping in when I arrived. A few minutes before the sun reached the pond, the pack of coyotes that lives to the west convened to discuss – loudly – the issues of the day. That got one of our adults stirring and starting the day with a big stretch.
Our chicks were about half a mile apart at dawn, this one swam by on the way to tracking down a parent to get some breakfast. The chicks can pretty much feed themselves these days, but don’t miss an opportunity to have a meal served up for them.
Our parent obliged and went to work catching crayfish. This is the pond with the banded male. I wasn’t able to get a good look at either adult’s leg this morning, so I couldn’t tell who was whom.
As soon as the chick swallowed the meal, it started pestering the adult to be fed again. The chicks will nibble at the parents, around the neck if they can reach. Both parents were quick to dive when the chicks approached this morning.
Our adult inbound with another crayfish for the chick. Several times, our adult surfaced with food while the chick was diving. Many times, the adult swallowed the food itself.
After eating the crayfish, the chick went right back to nibbling the parent.
After a time, they took a break to preen.
While preening, our adult took a shower. Loons will dip their wings rapidly in the water to kick up a spray.
Preening is usually followed by a good stretch.
Our parent threw off some of the water from the shower.
After preening, it was time to start on today’s lesson. There wasn’t a wind for the chick to try to takeoff into. I got lucky when the first attempt went across my bow. Our chick is just starting its run.
Picking up speed, working the wings for all their worth!
Almost!
Ohhh! Not this time! Our chick settles back into the water.
Our chick is determined to make this work…. here’s a second attempt – with an even better track for photos.
Once again, technically airborne, but the chick’s wings aren’t yet providing enough lift to take off.
The chick continued running and flapping….
Will this time work?
Not today, little guy. It will probably be the better part of two weeks before the chicks can actually take off. They’ll keep trying until they succeed.

Another Visit With The Loons

This morning provided better weather for visiting the loons than Friday. I headed out before dawn to see what they were up to. The chicks were ten weeks old this weekend. They’re mostly foraging for themselves now, they can make prolonged dives. But they’re still happy to have their parents rustle up a meal for them.

The morning started with both chicks trying to fly. They’re not yet ready. They give a good try, running across the water trying to gain enough speed to lift off. They still need to grow their flight feathers a bit more before they can takeoff. Soon. Very soon….
Here’s our other chick giving flying a try.
Great form, just not enough lift to get him airborne.
Most attempts to take off are followed by a stretch.
Or, maybe, they’re just taking a bow.
Once again, breakfast was primarily crayfish. I think this is dad inbound with one for the chicks.
Here’s another crayfish for one of the chicks.
The chicks have gotten very good at taking the handoff from their parents, they rarely fumble the food, something they did often when younger.
After feeding, the chicks took a quick nap.
One of our chicks doing a foot wave. I’m not sure why they do this. I’ve heard it suggested that it is to cool their legs and feet. But, water is a better conductor for heat, so I’m skeptical of that explanation. I wonder if it is just a way to stretch their legs.
And each chick gave a good stretch after waking up.
A stretch with a shake of the head.

Know an organization in need of programs? I’ve got several PowerPoint shows, one on the surviving steam locomotives in the US, visiting the puffins on Machias Seal Island, one on getting started with wildlife photography and one on loons. For educators, I’ve got a program about career opportunities in photography. Email for more info.


Loon Chicks at Ten Weeks

This morning, I was able to pay a quick visit to our loon family where our chicks are now ten weeks old. It was a brisk 38° when I put the boat in, with a light breeze making it feel colder. It seemed a long time before the sun crept up to light the pond. The wind only got worse, making photography difficult.

Are you in an organization that needs programs? I’ve got several PowerPoint presentations available. Under Steam gives a look at many of the US’s surviving steam locomotives, Puffin Stuff is about visiting and photographing the Atlantic Puffins on Machias Seal Island, Photographing the Critters in Your Yard is geared towards camera clubs and gives lots of ideas on how to get started with wildlife photography. And, An Uncommon Look at the Common Loon rounds up my best loon photos.

For educators, I’ve got a PowerPoint on Careers in Photography which introduces many lesser known career paths in photography. Students usually have interesting questions about my time managing NASA’s Photographic Section.

One of our great blue herons was on duty early again. There’s a chick directly behind him and that’s one of our parents on the far left.
Both chicks seem to be doing well, they’re still growing and are almost outfitted in their winter uniforms. Their feathers are still growing in.
Both chicks were making sustained dives in deep(er) water. They didn’t seem interested in foraging in the shallow water.
Stretching the wings. The water drops on the bird’s chest show how effective the waxy substance they excrete is at repelling water. I wish I could get a wax job on the car that effective.
The family was spread out over a large portion of the pond. The chicks were foraging independently. But were happy to take any food the parents cared to provide. Our parents made several flights, circling the pond many times throughout the morning. I suspect they’re conditioning for the upcoming migration.

One of our parents stretching.
Hey Wilber! Watch this! The chicks’ project for the morning was learning the basics of flying. Both chicks repeatedly taxied to the downwind end of a cove, turned into the wind and gave a good try to get airborne. This chick is technically airborne – briefly. They’re getting very close, but need their feathers to grow in a bit more to give them the lift needed for sustained flight.
One of our great blue herons has been foraging in the reeds in the shallows and feels the need to be elsewhere.

UPDATE: I was able to get back out to visit this family again Sunday morning, and the weather was more cooperative. More pix at: Another Visit With The Loons.

Loon Chicks Now Eight Weeks Old

Thanks to everyone who stopped by at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair. Nice to know people are actually reading the blog. My next show is the Capital Arts Fest, September 24 & 25 in Concord, NH.

Yesterday, I got a chance to check up on the Eastons. The chicks are now eight weeks old and seem to be doing well. They’re big – nearly as big as their parents. Their feathers have grown in and their bills have elongated. They’re diving and foraging for themselves, but still expect their parents to feed them. They’re getting independent, for much of the morning the family was spread out over something like a third of a mile.

Other bird families have fledged their chicks as well. There have been kingbirds around all season, I haven’t been able to decide if we have two or three pairs. When I visited yesterday, there were something like 15 kingfishers out and about, making me suspect we had three nests.

The morning started out with a beaver swimming by the family. The chicks were curious and swam to intercept the beaver. The beaver passed just a couple feet in front of them before circling back and slapping. Both parents rapidly arrived on scene. The parents keep a good eye out under water as the family retreated.
Their path took them close to this branch sticking out of the water. Both chicks explored it and found things to eat, probably insects or larvae.
Mom was serving up delicate little morsels while dad went off to forage. When dad returned, he brought back this larger fish, the first of several fish he’d serve up throughout the morning.
The chicks have mastered the handoff, I didn’t see them fumble with any food offered. Note the size of the chick.
Dad also brought home several crayfish.
A pair of osprey have been regular visitors all season. They were joined by at least one, probably two (maybe even three) chicks. They appeared one at a time, but very shortly after this one headed out of sight, a second one appeared.
Osprey will often hover over the pond to let them watch for fish below. This one hovered a few seconds before diving.
The dive took the osprey completely under water, before it resurfaced.
Success! He’s nabbed what looks like a catfish.
The loons pretty much ignore the osprey while they’re overhead. Dad continued feeding the chicks. This looks like a white sucker for the next course.
Another fish being handed off.
With their feathers grown in, the chicks need to do a lot of preening. Lots of contortions are required to maintain all those hard to reach places.

The chicks are practicing adulting. They made a few runs over the water learning how to take off. Their wings aren’t yet strong enough to lift them, but soon…. I thought this chick was attempting a takeoff. As he opened up the range, I lowered the camera. He promptly dove and came up doing the penguin dance – a skill he’s going to need to take or defend a territory.
Coming towards the end of his run wing rowing, he made a sharp right turn.
After practicing the penguin dance, a wing stretch was required.
Not to be outdone, the sibling gave a nice stretch.
As I headed home for the morning, I passed several great blue herons, the pair on the pond must have raised a good brood.

I’ll get out to check on our other families as promptly as I can, stay tuned!

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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Loon Chicks At Four And Five Weeks

The loon chicks to my east are five weeks old this weekend. All four on both ponds, the ‘Eastons’ and the ‘Middletons,’ seem to be doing well. The pond to my west, the ‘Westons,’ has sad news, the parents have lost a chick.

Our bluebirds’ second brood is ready to fledge. Wednesday afternoon the adults started calling to the chicks to leave the box. Thursday they were more insistent. Friday they sounded impatient. Saturday morning, two of the four chicks left the box. This morning their are still two chicks in the box. Mom and dad have stopped calling, they’re busy feeding the two that fledged. The two in the box are looking out the door, trying to get up the courage to make the leap.

The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair is August 6-15, I’ll be there with lots of wildlife prints, cards and more. Other images are available through my web site, www.IanClark.com. It takes me some time between capturing an image and getting prints made. If you see a photo that you’d like in one of my posts, send me an email and I’ll bump that image to the head of the queue.

The Weston family couldn’t be found during last week’s census. They’ve been under pressure from intruding loons all spring. They’re on a small pond, not being found in 90 minutes of searching was worrisome. I love how people watch out for ‘their’ loons, I heard from folks who live or have camps on the pond, worried that they hadn’t seen the loons for a couple days. A couple that live on the pond set out Monday to have another look and found the adults and one chick hidden in a remote part of the pond, a much better outcome than we’d feared. I visited Friday the pond Friday morning.

We’ll never know what happened to the missing chick. There are lots of threats, eagles, otters, coyotes if they get too close to shore and more. The intruding loon is also a likely suspect.

An intruding loon arrived on the pond shortly after I did. The Home Team came out from the little cove they’d been foraging in to meet the intruder, the chick hid in the brush. There was enough fog on the pond to make them have to search for him. (I’m guessing the intruder is male, the home team’s male is the more aggressive towards him, with lots yodeling to let us know he’s the male.)
The search continues… Eventually there was a brief skirmish and the intruder retreated to the far end of the pond.
After the intruder retreated, mom collected the chick to get breakfast started. Dad took up station between the family and the intruder. Things were quiet for a time.
There was a flock of tree and barn swallows feeding along the shore and gleaning insects from some of the plants. That’s one lucky bee overhead…..
With a gentle breeze, perching was precarious on the plants.
The flock is much bigger than it was a few weeks ago, this year’s chicks must have joined up. There were swallows coming and going in every direction after insects.
Mr. kingfisher briefly perched nearby while foraging.
Dad has spotted the intruder! He took a short flight to put himself between the intruder and the family.
Mom soon joined the fray. Dad is aggressively displaying and calling.
Dad lunged towards the intruder!
The intruder retreated down the pond. He didn’t leave, the fight for the territory is likely to continue.
Saturday I visited the Eastons, where both chicks are doing well and things were more peaceful. These chicks are five weeks old. They can’t dive yet, but are learning how to forage in the shallows. Mom and dad will have to provide most of their food for a few more weeks.
The chicks have learned that the water is shallow near rocks above the surface. Both chicks ventured to nearby rocks to forage on their own.
One of the adults herded the chicks into a shallow spot along the shore. The chicks were foraging on their own. The adult was foraging, eating some of the take and sharing some with the chicks.
This chick was “today years old” when it learned that sticks aren’t food.

This chick managed to catch a dragonfly in the brush. It then continued to test the brush to see what else might be good.
The other adult broke up the lesson to deliver second breakfasts. The first course looks to be a shiner.
The other adult appeared with a delicate morsel.
One of the adults arrived with a crayfish. The adult dropped the crayfish in front of the chick, making the chick catch it for itself. Once caught, crayfish have to be lined up to be swallowed tail first.
Ack! The crayfish isn’t very cooperative! It looks like it pinched the chick. The chick tossed it. The adult looking on supervised as the chick caught it again.
Mom had been off preening and trying to nap by herself for a bit. Out chick went over to her. Was it coming for some cuddles, or was it just hungry?

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Loon Chicks at Four Weeks And More

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.

Loon Fight For Territory

Today was another beautiful day to get out to check on the loons. I headed to the pond where the chicks had yet to hatch when I visited Friday. This is the westernmost pond that I’ve been watching, so these birds are the ‘Westons.’

There was a single loon floating by itself near the boat launch, and a long way from the nest. This is the pond that has had intruders challenging the home team for the territory this spring.

A ways down the pond, I found the home team lazily foraging with two chicks.

Out newest loons, one chick riding, the other is tucked under the far wing.
One of the parents attempting to deliver a 10 ounce fish to the three ounce chicks. The fish was uncooperative and the loon dropped it. The loon reached underwater for it, not sure if it caught it or if it was the fish’s lucky day.

Our family drifted out towards the middle of the pond when things got exciting.

The intruding loon surfaced right next to the parent babysitting the chicks and went for them. Loons intent on taking over a territory will try to kill any chicks. Without chicks, the holders of the territory have less to fight for. The loon doing the penguin dance is the home team male, with the intruder in front of him. After the skirmish, the home team loon returned to the family, then turned and yodeled at the intruder hiding at the far end of the pond. Only male loons yodel, so this was most likely a fight between our male and another male who wishes to take over his territory.
The male from the home team rearing up to try to scare the intruder.
The chase is on! The intruder retreats, with our male in hot pursuit. Loons in a heated territory dispute will ‘wing row’ (‘wing oar’ to our friends across the pond) across the water. If the pursuing loon can catch up, they will fight by hitting each other with their wings or their beaks. Fights go until one retreats or gets killed.
“When you strike at a king, you must kill him” – or face the consequences. The intruder tries to get away.
The fight continued up and down the pond.
Coming back for another lap….
Our male gains ground….
Loons wing rowing turn by dipping one wing into the water, the pursuing loon usually matches the move. With the spray, it can be hard to tell what’s going on.
And stay out! After chasing the intruder into the brush at the far end of the pond, our male returned to his mate and chicks. He spent several minutes yodeling in the direction of the intruder and pretty much any critter that moved around the pond. The intruder has retreated, but not left the pond. The fight may not be over.

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