2022 LoonCam Season Archive

During the LoonCam season, short clips of interesting activities around the loon nest are published on the LPC’s YouTube Channel.  It is a good way to catch up on what’s been going on.  The following playlist from the 2022 season includes clips from both looncam 1 and 2 – sorted by most popular.

2022 LoonCam Highlight Playlist (click to start)

Looncam 1 (2022 History)

  • June 28: Loon watchers and LPC report loon parents and two chicks are doing well.  No fishing line on female, no injuries apparent on male.  One chick is diving and both are being fed.
  • June 25: Second egg hatched overnight.  Parents and two chicks swam off into the sunset after a day of drama.
  • June 24: First egg hatched at 7:16PM
  • May 30: The second egg was laid at 19:23:40.
  • May 29-30: The first egg is rolled out of the nest bowl and lays on the side of the nest overnight until recovered the next morning by the other loon.
  • May 29: The loons visited the nest twice overnight but appear to be leaving the single egg alone for a while, waiting for the second egg to appear.  LPC’s Blogger predicts that the hatch will be June 24’th, mid-morning.  We’ll see how accurate his is (hint: usually pretty good).
  •  May 28: The first egg was laid at 5:05:45 this morning.  Both loons took turns incubating it during the day, leading us to wonder if there will only be one egg.  This pair has a 50% chance of only having one egg.  By evening, incubation had stopped.
  • 5/9  Daily brief visits from the loons.  Pair of geese have been spending time in the nest each day.  Hoping they don’t pick it as their nest before the loons are ready to take up residence.
  • 5/2  Nest placed and camera started May 2.  Loons watched the installation and made several visits to the nest in the hours following.

Looncam 2 (2022 History)

  • July 22: Post nesting exam performed by LPC summer staff.  One chick is lost and the other is being raised by both parents in their summer brooding area.
  • July 16: Parents and chicks continue to make occasional and brief appearances in view of the camera.  All look healthy.
  • July 15: Both parents and 2 chicks leave the nesting area at 5:09AM.  YouTube stream is shut down around 5:10PM.
  • July 14: Female spends night on water with chicks.  Comes back to beside nest at dawn, waits for male, who arrives a hour or so later.  Several attempts to leave the area fail and male takes chicks back onto nest around 10AM.
  • July 13: Male abandons first chick.  LPC rescues it after four hours and places it near the nest.  Male doesn’t return till next morning.
  • July 12: Pip on first egg noticed early morning.  Chick seen under wing around 4PM.
  • July 3: Parents continue to share incubation duty.  No issues
  • June 25: Looncam 2 camera goes live shortly after looncam 1 finishes
  • June 17-18: Two eggs are laid (unwitnessed)

2022 Season Summary by Loon Cam Operator

Biff’s Blog from the 2022 Season

July 15, 2022

Isn’t that the way with the Loon Cam 2 pair; they always have us on the edge of our seats. I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with the chicks. Chick 1 hatched in the afternoon of July 12, a day or two ahead of schedule but we only had a rough estimate of when the egg was laid. Chick 2 hatched in the early afternoon on the following day. Shortly after that, Dad lost #1 because he was preoccupied with his own thoughts. #1 spent three hours imprinting on a buoy before the LPC biologists took pity on it, scarfed it up and delivered it back to the nest (but not before weighing it: 90 grams). At first, Mom seemed pleased to have #1 back in the nest. But soon #2 picked a fight with #1, who appeared to #2 to be a newcomer. It was the most evenly matched, knock down, drag out chick brawl I ever witnessed. Just before they were ready to resort to broken beer bottles they tumbled off the raft, each in a death grip of the other. That didn’t slow them down. Mom had to get in the water and break it up.

But let’s talk about Dad. He didn’t seem to be into the whole fatherhood thing. He was happy to let Mom to all the chick sitting while he went gallivanting off to do whatever. And when Mom wanted to to take a break, he just sat there with a confused look on his face. When Mom and the chicks were ready to go, he just took off without them. Chatters on the Loon Cam began suggesting that we had a deadbeat dad on our hands. The final straw was when Dad caught a minnow, showed it to the chicks and then ate it himself. That got him off everyone’s Christmas Card list.

Turns out Dad had a reason to be preoccupied. Unknown to us, there was an interloper on the territory who wanted Dad out of the picture. There were really no hints about that until it culminated in a battle for the territory in the early afternoon of the 14th. Watch it; it’s impressive. The family made numerous attempts to get the chicks toward the brooding area but it wasn’t until this morning that it appears they made any headway. Locals have reported that the family is in the next cove and still intact, although also still on guard. I have high hopes for them. Dad may be an airhead but he’s a hell of a fighter.

July 12, 2022

Eagle Kepr, one of our regular chatters on the Loon Cam, has been keeping a detailed record of nest sitting times, starting on July 1. It is posted online as an annotated spread sheet. It provides a great example of how the nest sitting is divvied up between the male and female, especially during the last week or so of incubation. I’ve used the data to create a graphic plot for those who prefer a visual aid over hard numbers. Pink is the female, blue is the male. You can see that Mom does all the nighttime sitting and at this late point in incubation she is covering two thirds of the nest duties.

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.

July 3, 2022

Now that the drama of Loon Cam 1 is over (and jubilantly successful), we turn our attention to the Cam 2 pair. Although the situation appears rather tame compared to Cam 1, The history of the Cam 2 territory is rife with upheaval.

The earliest record of loon occupation on this territory is 1987, although this may be because the pair moved the nest to a different island and it was assigned as a new territory. But there has never been a year when both islands had nests and the brooding area is believed to be the same for both territories. There were two years of successful nesting on the new island before development pressure and the raccoons that are attracted by the food opportunity of developed areas caused successive years of nest failures.

In 1992 LPC decided to install a raft. The challenge was where to put it and the chosen location was a compromise. This small cove was the only spot away from the boat traffic and the densely packed shoreline camps. The down side was that the nest was separated from the brooding area by a small cove of loon anarchy, given various names by LPC biologists such as “The DMZ” and “The Crossroads.” It all has to do with the geography of the lake, which in this area consists of densely packed, interconnected coves with numerous loon territories.

It is a challenging territory in which to successfully hatch and raise chicks, or even to just hold onto. In the past twenty years, there have been six times that total chaos has prevented nesting (one lasting for two years) and LPC couldn’t even identify a resident pair; just a number of loons harassing each other. Of the thirteen years with a resident pair, we know of at least five males and three females that held the territory during that time.

Despite the turbulent environment, in those twenty years the loons have managed to hatch 15 chicks, ten of which survived to the end of the season. So we have a 75% chance of a successful hatch and a 50% chance of a surviving chick. That’s pretty close to the statewide average.

June 25, 2022

Today dawned as a typical hatch day. Around 7 am the second chick hatched and we had a great view of Mom, and then Dad, nest sitting while the chicks peeped and had their first wobbly experience outside of an egg. Around noon the parents decided it was time that they all be real loons, get in the water and head for the brooding area. Chick #2 refused to go. Not unheard of and no big deal to the loons. Dad took #1 out for a paddle while Mom stayed on the nest with #2. Right about 1 pm Mom convinced #2 to join the others. They got in the water, gave a call, and then Dad and #1 began swimming back toward them.

Then it got weird. When Dad and #1 were still off camera and about 50 feet from Mom and #2, Dad let out some hideous sounds and began splashing in the water. When the camera turned we could see him beating his wings against the water and straining as if he were trying to release himself from something under the water. He also began moving away from #2 and the others, so #2 swam toward Mom and away from the commotion. Dad’s contortions went on for a couple of minutes. Three people reported seeing a large turtle head beneath him at one point. Shortly after that it appeared that Dad had shaken off whatever grabbed him and he swam further away, only to begin his bizarre behavior all over again. He worked his way to the middle of the lake, his efforts seemed to slow down as if he were wearing out, he dropped lower into the water, went under once, twice, three times, and then he sank out of sight.

Fifteen minutes later, still no Dad in sight. Mom looked confused and horrified, floating in the water with two chicks circling her. She didn’t change her expression or move more than twenty feet for an hour. During this time I was reviewing the video and trying to make sense out of it all. All the signs I saw pointed to an attack from under water. The only aquatic critter in the lake that could hold down a loon from swimming away would be a large snapping turtle. Why didn’t Dad come back after it was all over? It’s not like a loon to abandon its chicks on their first swim unless something was totally wrong. The only logical answer I could see was that Dad couldn’t come back and possibly wouldn’t be coming back and prematurely stated my fears to the chatters.

A little after two there was a wail in the distance. Mom answered back. At 2:25 pm Dad showed up, certainly weary and worse for wear, but intact, much to the relief of us all. A few chatters suggested that Dad had performed a distraction display but I don’t buy it. First, the only distraction display that loons are known for is the penguin dance. There is no wing beating in a penguin dance; it’s all in the feet that they use to kick up the water and rise up and puff their chest out to look menacing. Dad wasn’t being menacing; he was being frantic. But on the other hand, if a snapper had wraped it’s powerful mouth around the loons legs or feet the loon would surely be maimed after all that struggling. Perhaps Dad saw the snapper going for for the chick and he was trying to protect the chick and came up with this wing slap method, continuing to push/chase the snapper away from his family. That seems to have the best chance.

But more weirdness: When Dad got back both he and Mom continued to be animated and stressed out. An hour and a half wasn’t enough time to cool down? Something continued to bother them and that something was likely to keep Dad away for so long. But What? That’s the question. And then Dad took the chicks back to the nest, where they still are at 6:30 pm. Chatters think that #2 needs more time to dry out but I suspect that Dad needs the break more than the chicks do. It’s all kinda weird.

June 24, 2022

Is a chick sitting in half an eggshell hatched? In my book it is. And those constantly watching since the first pip at midnight 19 hours ago are likely to agree. Chick number one hatched at 7:00 pm this evening. Maybe earlier, but that was when Mom got real antsy and kept adjusting her left wing. Ten minutes later she lifted it high enough to reveal Junior sitting upright in his calcium cradle. Or hers; darned if we can tell the difference. LPC is proud of these parents. They are reliable brooders and we feel privileged to assist them by providing a nesting raft. Here’s hoping #2 hatches just as healthy and just as boisterous. This chick can sing! Nonstop.

June 19, 2022

This season has certainly shown us that there is intense competition between loons for the best breeding habitat. It seems to be a daily occurrence that our pair has to deal with intruders, sometimes as many as four or five at a time. A territorial pair must be constantly alert and know what’s happening within and beyond their territory. Exactly how they do it, how well they do it, and which senses they depend on for monitoring their territory have received very little study or discussion. Perhaps starting with the little bit we know about loons and throwing in some anecdotal evidence will shed some light.

It has been established that loons have high visual and auditory acuity. These are the two senses that are certainly most useful. Because loons are aquatic, they also benefit from the fact that water transmits sound five times better than air does, so they can increase their hearing by submerging their head. Loons also have a functioning olfactory bulb, above average in size compared to 107 other sampled bird species. So we can’t rule out the possibility that loons can smell each other, but it has yet to be positively demonstrated. Even if it were true, it wouldn’t be of much use other than at very close range, when the loon could already see and hear the intruder.

So, if they are using their hearing and vision, at what distance can they sense an intruding loon or other threat? I can recount two experiences that can shed some light on the question. On the first, I was monitoring a female with two chicks when the male showed up. The pair were exchanging pleasantries when suddenly the male turned toward the far end of the bay in a head up alert posture, gave a tremolo and then dove and swam in that direction. The female immediately stashed the chicks in a safe location and swam off to join him. I scanned the far end of the bay with my binoculars and could just barely make out a black dot floating in the water. Within a minute two more black dots appeared and a heated physical exchange ensued. The distance between the intruder and where the male was when he first sensed it was at least a half mile. That means that out in the open water, a loon might be able to sense another loon anywhere in a 500 acre circle.

The second instance started in a similar manner but this time the male didn’t swim off. He stayed within a hundred feet of the female and chicks, stared in one direction and let loose with some tremolos. At first I and the other biologist with me couldn’t figure what got the male all riled up. But, by the time the male switched to yodels and the female took over the tremolo, we recognized a paddleboarder headed in our direction. The loons didn’t take kindly to this newfangled sport. They gave him a royal tongue lashing as he passed. Again, the threat was perceived when it was still a half mile away. Although in this case a human standing on water is much more prominent than a loon. I think the take-away is that in many cases the loons know exactly what is going on in their entire territory. And then some.

June 12, 2022

Beware the cost of success; it brings notoriety. Notoriety brings envy and jealousy. Others want what you have. As I’ve written before, loons keep tabs on each other and they know who’s living the good life. Our pair has certainly been suffering the curse of notoriety lately. This clip, and this clip, show recent examples of our pair dealing with intruders.

But yesterday morning while Dad was on the nest he noticed something very concerning and went into a head-down defensive posture. It took quite a bit of scanning the lake but we finally saw five loons swimming and diving at the far end of the cove. Was Mom one of the five? Or was she laying low and monitoring the five? We’ll probably never know.

Five visitors on one territory during nesting is a bit much. Later in the season, after the chicks have hatched, five, ten or even twenty congregating loons is a common occurrence. Occasionally there might be a chick or two included in the group. It’s been suggested that loon parents bring chicks into another loon pair’s territory to fool visitors into thinking that the chicks are a product of that territory. Sneaky little buggers!

But how about a resident triad? On two occasions during my years of monitoring loons I’ve recorded three loons living in toleration of – and even in cooperation with – each other for the better part of the season. In each case I was able to identify a pair. Apparently the third loon moved in and couldn’t take over the territory but the pair was unable to drive the third loon out. That was enough to prevent nesting and the loons managed to live together in a form of detente. On one lake I found all three napping together within 20 feet of each other. On the other lake I witnessed the three loons cooperatively chase a fourth loon off the lake and then celebrate together. Three loons hurling insults at a fleeing visitor was a sight and sound to behold.

No matter how well you think you know loons, they’ll always come up with a new surprise.

June 6, 2022

Some Blog readers may remember my 2021 “Biff’s Scientific Hatch Time Predictions” blog, where I did some statistical voodoo and predicted the hatch dates based on Loon Cam records. If I recall correctly, I was pretty close. That makes the process a little easier this year. The time between the eggs being laid is the same as last year, as well as the greater than average time the first egg got incubated before the second egg was laid. This loon pair shows considerable consistency. Let’s hope the eggs can also follow the game plan. This is what I’m going with:

Egg 1 hatch: Friday, June 24 at 1:30 PM

Egg 2 hatch: Sunday, June 26 at 3:00 AM

June 4, 2022

The loon cam has recently been catching a few visits from intruding loons in the resident pair’s territory. One clip shows a single intruder nonchalantly swimming right between Mom and Dad. Dad (furthest away) raises up a bit, showing more white on his breast and and begins to swim toward the intruder. That was all it took to send the visitor wing rowing out of the frame and presumably flying off the lake. Mom, all this time, has a squared off forehead (akin to a dog raising its hackles) until at the very end when she decides there is no longer any threat.

The second clip shows a circle dance. Two intruders and one of the pair meet within range of the camera. The three approach each other, begin slowly swimming in a tight circle, and size each other up. The situation is tense so they each do a lot of peering (sticking their entire head under water) to guard against an underwater attack from any other loon that might be in the area. When one of them dives, they all dive. This for their safety and also it is an opportunity for them to assess their opponent’s defensive swimming skills. During the month of May you might see two loons doing a circle dance. But watch carefully. If the two are not pointing their bills at each other and if they are “dipping” (dipping only their bills and not peering) and doing synchronous diving, you are watching a courtship dance. These are not contestants; these are a pair taking their vows. And, yes, as far as I know loons renew their vows every spring, but it would be a difficult hypothesis to test. There may be some who don’t want to sign a prenuptial agreement.

But lets get back on track and ask the BIG question: why are there so many intruding visitors in this territory? Loons are social animals. The pair stays together all season, working cooperatively to do the daily chores and feed the chicks, but they also take a great interest in what other loons in their neighborhood are up to (see my May 24 post: The Territory). The territory of this pair is the entire lake so it’s not impossible for a visitor to safely land undetected, which would give it a bit of advantage in snooping around. And even more important, this pair’s home is in the middle of the Lakes District; it’s sort of a single home in the middle of a megalopolis. There is at least a dozen of other occupied loon territories within five minutes flying time, as well as a number of unpaired loons skulking about. They all want to know what’s happening here, just as this pair may individually take off to visit other lakes. Remember the female on the Loon Cam a few years ago? She left the lake for two days and left Dad to deal with the hatchlings. It’s all part of a loon’s life. It makes interesting viewing and with these two veteran parents it’s a minimal risk.

May 31, 2022

We can blame it on the new moon. It was pitch black in the dead of night; Mama couldn’t see past her nares. All she wanted to do was turn the egg a bit so she could get more comfortable. She knew she had messed up when she plopped down and found herself sliding down the exterior slope of the nest, egg in tow. What followed was three hours of confused and horrified desperation. She came so close to getting the egg back in the bowl but just couldn’t manage the last few inches. She cried for help but only got a string of distant yodels in return. Cheeky chatters theorized that hubby was hanging out with the boys at the Sand Bar. A forlorn Mama eventually left the nest area.

Eggs being knocked out of the nest or otherwise misplaced is probably more common than you would think. Over the years, the loon cam has recorded this happening two other times, as well as one egg being broke and removed from the nest by the loons. Loons are built to be in the water and are very awkward when on land. This is one reason you should never approach a nesting loon. If you flush it off the nest there’s a good chance it will either kick the egg out the back or drag it out the front.

Along about 4 am, with the first faint rays of morning twilight, Dad showed up from his all-night carousing. With no Mrs. around, he climbed up on the raft and saw the egg on the wrong side of the rim of the bowl. No problem; He gave it nudge and, voila, back in the bowl. He then promptly lost balance and slid down the slope into the predator guard. Dad really needs to cut down on his all-nighters at the Sand Bar. He climbed back up and sat on the egg for while before remembering he had an early appointment and took off. Shortly later Mama came back, looked at the raft, couldn’t see the egg in the bowl, circled the raft a half dozen times and swam away, still in despair. It wasn’t until 10 am that she finally realized the egg was back in the nest.

Oh, and by the way, that evening Mama laid her second egg at 7:23. Sitting on two eggs and watching the sun set over a mirror-calm lake, Mama figured life isn’t all bad.

You can watch the low-lights of Mama’s bad day here. And the highlight here.

May 28, 2022

At around 9 pm last night there was an altercation between motel guests. The wood ducks, who were the first to check in, were accosted by the newly arrived geese. Although heavily outweighed, Mama Duck showed an incredible tenacity and managed to wear out the geese and sent them scurrying for alternative accommodations.

Motel management showed up at 11:29 pm and evicted all tenants. When interviewed, Mr Loon, co-owner of the motel, said “Enough is enough! We’ve had guests trashing the place on a nightly basis and this brawl is the final straw.” He added that now, with avian malaria becoming a health issue, none of the guests were willing to wear a mask. Or a diaper. “I’m not risking my life for a bunch of hoodlums!”

At 5:05 this morning Mrs. Loon deposited an egg in the nest; a decisive sign that the motel is not accepting guests. It’s sort of a shame. With the tourist season just getting started shore-front accommodations are at a premium.

May 27, 2022

I’ve already mentioned the various nest raft visitors we frequently see but this year the raft has been exceptionally busy. The local goose pair uses the raft every night, sometimes staying as long as six hours. But last night we set a record for occupancy: the two geese, mama wood duck and her three chicks. The ducks were on for eight and a half hours, 8:19 pm to 4:48 am. Now that’s a good night’s sleep, although the geese woke them up when they moved in at 11:41 pm. Here we see Mrs. Goose and Mama Duck exchanging pleasantries.

We’re having trouble hiring chamber maids. Those geese leave an awful mess!

May 24, 2022

I’ve used the term “territory” a number of times in these blogs. Perhaps I ought to define the term as it is used in wildlife ecology and discuss its implications. It often gets confused with “home range.” A home range is the total area that an individual uses on a regular basis, which can vary by season. A territory is the area an individual (or pair, in this case) will defend from intruders, particularly those of the same species (conspecific territoriality). When a loon pair is on the breeding lake their territory is their entire home range, with possible exceptions late in the season.

Loon territories in New Hampshire can be as small as 20 acres. On large lakes with many loon pairs close together their territories average around 40 acres. On smaller lakes that can only support one loon pair, the loons will typically consider the entire lake as their territory.

Our Loon Cam lake is under 100 acres and can only support one loon pair. Consequently, any visiting loon will be considered as a threat to the pair. Early yesterday there was a visiting loon on the lake. There was a lot of vocalization, including tremolos, and it was seen near the nest raft on one occasion. It may have been a lone loon looking for a territory to take over. It’s estimated that there are 100 or more single loons without territories in New Hampshire. Or it might be more likely that it was a curious loon from a nearby territory just scoping out the pond. This lake is in the heart of the Lakes Region and there are dozens of loons that could pop in by just flying a few minutes. Loons like to keep tabs on their neighbors. It’s always good to know your prospects in case you happen to lose your territory.

The short-lived and low-key confrontation between the loons makes me think it was just a nosy neighbor and not a loon looking to push one of our pair off the territory. Things rapidly returned to normal, and apparently without anyone getting a thrashing. Our pair is back to preparing for nesting. Any day now.

May 22, 2022

Choosing a territory is one of the most important decisions a loon needs to make. The “perfect” territory will have good water clarity, plenty of prey for both adults and chicks, is easily defensible from other loons, and has at least one good nest site.

In choosing a nest site, the loons are looking for a spot that is protected from terrestrial predators as well as wind and wave action. The more foliage the better, because it helps hide the nest from avian predators and nosy humans. The location that best fits the bill is the lee side of a tiny island in a sheltered cove. But there are not enough tiny islands in sheltered coves to accommodate all the loon pairs so they have to make do with what is available.

But who makes the choice? If you have the good fortune to watch a pair of loons nest site shopping in the spring, the soft vocalizations and head bobbing make it appear that it is a joint decision, made only after a long discussion and agreement between the two. But Walter Piper, a friend and colleague of LPC, has another idea. Walter reviewed the records of mate swaps and nest location changes on numerous loon territories in Wisconsin and found that nest site locations change much more frequently when there was a new male as opposed to a new female. (This is a bit of a simplification. Walter’s study was looking at the “win—stay, lose—switch rule”, but that’s a whole ‘nuther blog.) This is strong evidence that males choose the nest site. What it means for the loons is that it’s to the male’s advantage to keep a territory with which he is familiar; it’s to the female’s advantage to get on a territory that’s been held by one male for a long time.

And who chooses when to start nesting? This is a little more complicated. Sometimes it may not be the pair that makes the choice. If there is interference from other loons the pair may have to forego nesting until they can secure their territory. But when the territory is secure and the nest site is chosen, it’s up to the female; if not rationally, at least physiologically. One thing we know for sure, isotope analysis has shown that the eggshell and contents are from the lake, and not from the ocean, where the loon was before flying to the lake. So the female has to consume enough nutrients to replenish what was spent during the migration, to maintain good health, and then to produce two large eggs – about two thirds of a pound. Any nest initiation in May is earlier than average, which in New Hampshire is around the first week in June. This pair are pretty reliable late May nesters so we are expecting them to be on the nest any day now.

May 18, 2022

While the loons are settling in to their summer home and before they initiate nesting, now is a good time to enjoy the vast array of neighborhood wildlife likely to show up on the loon cam. The most frequent visitor is the red-winged blackbird. There is a shrubby marshland behind the camera, which is the preferred habitat of this bird. The resident male uses the raft as a perch for singing his “conk-a-ree” song, declaring territorial rights. You can also hear the “check” calls that both sexes make.

The painted turtle is the most common turtle in New Hampshire and you are likely to see as many as a half-dozen sunning themselves on the nearby rocks, as well as on the raft. They will continue to use the raft when the loons are nesting, well out on the edge of the corners in case the nesting loon decides visiting hours are over. The loons are much less tolerant of the snapping turtles, which will occasionally approach the raft. Despite their pugnacious attitude, the snappers pose little threat to the adult loons.

The most frequent nighttime visitor is the muskrat. These semi-aquatic rodents forage for food in the water but they need a dry place for eating. They build eating platforms out of mud and vegetation but they will use any available ready-made platform. Unoccupied nesting rafts make great eating platforms and the muskrats have been known to chew an access hole through the bottom of the raft so they can be more inconspicuous as they come and go. LPC now wraps the raft bottoms in a steel mesh to thwart the muskrat’s penchant for remodeling.

There is a resident osprey pair on this lake and some lucky viewers have witnessed an osprey scooping up a fish and flying off with it. Other visitors include great blue herons, kingfishers, otters, and various waterfowl. The loons will be nesting soon but there is much to see while we wait.

May 11, 2022

A topic receiving much attention on the Loon Cam is the pair of geese visiting the nest raft on a regular basis. They appear to have much more interest in it than the loon pair has. Geese have been known to nest on LPC nest rafts, although it is a very rare occurrence.

Because geese tend to nest a few weeks earlier than loons, they have an advantage in choosing nest sites. The incubation and nest brooding times for the geese are almost identical to those of the loons: 28 days for incubation and the chicks leave the nest in one or two days. So if the geese begin nesting on the raft in the next few days, then the raft would be unavailable to the loons until mid June. If this happens, the loons might wait, they might choose to nest elsewhere, or they might not nest this year. These possibilities are always present, whether or not the geese usurp the raft.

LPC would prefer to have loons nesting on the raft but we don’t own the lake and we can’t dictate the behavior of the wildlife residents on the lake. But we can take comfort in knowing that the goose and loon populations have both been increasing over the past few decades. Nature seeks a balance, and the loons fit comfortably in the balance.