[MAM note: For those of you who may be as awestruck by birds and especially loons, as I am, I continue this series of loon photos that Ellie George of New York state in the Adirondacks region takes near where she lives. Her photography is amazing.]
Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. On Wednesday I paddled out to Grass Island to check the loon nest and found only egg shell pieces in it. That meant that either the chicks had hatched or a predator had gotten the eggs. I found both adult loons swimming and diving far from shore, and no chicks were present. I watched them fish for awhile and decided that they had no chicks, and that the nest must have been predated. Sometimes loons will stash their chicks along the shoreline while they fish, but not usually with very young chicks, and I had not seen the Paradox loon pair stash their chicks last year until the chicks were much larger. I was sad that there would be no loon chicks on the lake this year.
Then this morning I got an email that said that someone had seen two loon chicks on the lake. I was very excited, but had lots of chores I had to do first. I waited for the winds to die down somewhat and paddled out this evening. I found the loon family in Legoy’s Bay, which is full of boats and not what I considered to be the best nursery area for raising tiny loon chicks. But what do I know? The loon parents were busily diving to feed both chicks, and the chicks could dive already, too, especially the larger one. Finally after filling their bellies, the loon chicks climbed onto the father loon’s back. The mother loon continued to fish and brought a couple of fish to the back-riding chicks, sort of like breakfast in bed. The father loon is larger than the mother and has a bigger bill, so they can be distinguished from each other.
The chicks appear to be about 4 to 5 days old already and are growing very fast. The Paradox loon parents are skillful fishermen and very good parents, based on my observations from last year’s successful raising of their two chicks. Hopefully we will have another magical summer watching the loon family grow up.