“May You Live in Interesting Times”

It seems that something has cursed the Cam 1 pair with this left-handed blessing. In previous years we’ve witnessed hail the size of golf balls pelting the nest, an AWOL Mom during hatch, lost eggs – both kicked into the water and buried in the nest – and an eagle flying off with a chick. It’s truly amazing that this pair has managed to meet or exceed the statewide productivity (chicks surviving) rate during this time.

This year is no exception. Lake residents have reported that there have been “visiting” loons on the lake for quite a while. Any extra adult loons are a threat to the resident pair and particularly a threat to any recently hatched chicks. Basically, there’s a territorial war going on.

Somehow the pair has managed to have a successful nest while dealing with the intruding loons. The second chick hatched yesterday morning. Under normal circumstances, the family would leave the nest after the new chick had dried off and then become accustomed to swimming, which only takes a few hours. The brooding area, which is where the pair would take the chicks because it has plenty of bite-sized chick food, is on another part of the lake and near where the intruding loons are lurking. In effect, the family is under siege and cut off from essential food supplies.

During and after the hatch, Mom and Dad have each gone off to battle with the intruders while the other tends to the chicks. There was a brief time last evening when it appeared that the pair had vanquished the enemies. A lake resident reported seeing a loon flying off and leaving the lake and Mom, who was on the battle lines at that time, returned to the nest area and there was a raucous celebration of tremolos. But they still wouldn’t leave the nest area. Mom took both of the chicks and returned to the nest, where the three of them spent the night. The loons obviously still perceived a threat. We assume Dad resumed patrol duty.

This morning things still haven’t changed. A lake resident reports that there is still at least one intruding loon on the lake and the chicks are confined to the nest area, in the company of one adult. We’ll keep watching and reporting. There will be another post shortly that discusses an encounter that deserves its own blog. Stay tuned!