Friday, July 29, 2011

All of the Little Ones are Growing Up

One of the highlights of spring and early summer is the chance to photograph a lot of babys. This year I was photographing everything from great horned owl chicks to merlin chicks to eastern kingbirds feeding their chick. However by now most of the chicks have grown up and are learning how to survive out on their own.

The common loon nests on clear freshwater lakes. Nests are often located on floating islands of vegetation or on top of muskrat mounds. Having a nest surrounded by water helps to keep away some of the land based predators.

Loons typically lay 2 to 4 eggs. They incubate them for 27 to 30 days. Hatchlings are able to leave the nest with in a day or so of hatching. For their first couple weeks of life they will spend a majority of their time riding on their parents back. This helps to keep them safe from some of the predators under the water, such as pike, until they are stronger swimmers.
It takes about 11 weeks before the young loons fledge. This young one was working on his first flight. Loons spend a majority of their time on the water. They are built more for swimming then they are flying. Most of their food, primarily fish, frogs and aquatic invertabrates, is caught by diving and much of it is consumed under the water. In order to dive deep, they can dive over 200 feet below the surface, they do not have hollow bones like most birds do which makes them heavy for their size. Adult loons weigh about 12 pounds, or about the same as an large adult female eagle in Minnesota, which means that they need a lot of room to take off into the air.


Cheryl said...

Fascinating information. I've only heard their call in the distance. I tend to stay away from lakes in the summer since our entire state is a tourist destination. They are gorgeous birds.

Anonymous said...

What gorgeous shots.

Kay L. Davies said...

Fabulous photos of this young fella trying to get airborne.

—Kay, Alberta, Canada

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

Very nice photos.