The Price of Success

May 10, 2023

Success breeds envy in onlookers. And envy can breed animosity and treachery. So it is with loons as well as humans. If you can consistently hatch two chicks year after year, less successful loons will know about it and they won’t be shy about attempting to take over your territory. Our pair has returned (at least we can assume that until we verify by band readings) and there’s been no shortage of visiting loons getting in their face.

This clip is a good example. One loon is chasing another loon while a third loon casually floats nearby and seems to pay little notice. As long as the loons have read the manual, we can partially ascertain the identity of at least one of the loons. The disinterested loon is one of the resident pair. The chaser and chase-ee are of the same sex. We can only hope that the resident is the chaser. At this point, before the pair has made a significant investment by laying eggs in the nest, an intruding loon is likely to only draw the ire of the resident of the same sex. The disinterested loon is not having its right to the territory challenged and may or may not care which of the other two prevails. After all, you want the most fit mate you can get. After eggs are laid, things can change. Both loons are likely to challenge any intruder. No one wants to lose their home equity.

Intruders have been showing up frequently, and often more than one at a time. It may take a while for the situation to stabilize but they have plenty of time. They usually nest around May 24 to 28.