The Home Stretch
Our webcam loons have been nesting for almost three weeks, with only one week to go before hatching is expected on June 11. In the day or two leading up to the hatch, the chick inside the egg will start peeping—making noises that the adult loon on the nest can hear. Check out this description of a Whooping Crane egg’s development for an exciting look at what goes on inside the egg as it approaches hatching: https://journeynorth.org/tm/crane/VisualizeEgg.html. As the loon chick continues to develop in this final week it is more sensitive to fluctuations in temperature than it was in the early stages of incubation, and the adults are thought to be more committed to the nest. They will continue to attend it carefully, and are less likely to leave the nest if a threat comes near. With every hot day we watch the incubating adult loons pant, and speculate about how much heat stress they can tolerate. The immediate forecast calls for 1-2 inches (3-5 cm) of rain tomorrow evening and into Monday, another potential nest hazard. On its elevated mound this nest should be safe from flooding, but managers who regulate the nearby dam have been enlisted to watch closely and let more water out if needed, to offset any extreme rise. Usually, nest flooding is considered a real risk if the lake rises by 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) or more.