Loon Family
Loon Family
photo by: Ken W. Watson, 2007

    Loon Family
   Raising chicks is usually a family affair. The male re-joins the female once the chicks hatch out. One of his main duties is to distract predators. When a predator (including boaters) get too close, the male will start to call and flap, leading the predator away from the mother and chicks. In an extreme example, the male will do the Penguin dance (see the Penguin Dance photo)

The male often leaves the female and chicks after the first few of weeks, leaving them more vulnerable to boating traffic.

In the days following hatching, loon chicks rest up by hitching a ride on their mother's back. These particular chicks are 2 days old. Their biggest challenge will be in the coming three months, when they are still unable to dive very deep and are at risk of predators and also of being hit by speeding motorboats. This, unfortunately, is an all too common occurence.

These chick hatched on June 25, 2007. The female used an artificial nesting platform that I maintain (see the Loon Nest photo). While she is usually successful at hatching two chicks, it has been a rare event to see those chicks survive into adulthood. The July, August and September long weekends are particularly tough, we usually lose one or both chicks to speeding boats (often towing waterskiers or tubers). The little chicks are very hard to spot, particularly if the driver of the boat isn't paying attention to wildlife that they are about to run over.

So, if you're boating, please pay attention to loons in the water in front of you and give them a wide berth. The adults can easily dive to get out of the way, but the chicks can't do this until late September.

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© 2007 Ken W. Watson