July 10, 2022
Newcomers to the Loon Cam chat often ask or assume that the female is incubating the eggs in the nest. But, as long-time watchers can attest, the male and female share the nest sitting duties. The schedule for sharing duties varies between pairs of mated loons. Some switch off every three or four hours while others will go for twelve hour shifts or longer. There have been a few studies on nest sitting and they tend to agree on two points. The female is more likely to be on the nest during the night time and the female tends to increase her time on the nest as it gets closer to hatch time.
This pair is following the textbook very well. Mom is doing all the nighttime sitting and by now she is averaging about 15-16 hours per day. Expected hatch is only about 4 or 5 days away. But when it comes to hatch time, neither of the pair seems to feel any obligation to stay on the nest to greet the new chick. Even if the chick is well into breaking out of the shell, if the mate shows up and is willing to take over, the sitting loon will relinquish its seat. Perhaps they realize that it’s their last chance to take a swim alone, without the responsibility of feeding and protecting their offspring.