Wednesday, June 15, 2011
The Call of the Loon
I love loons! They are so elegant and regal with their highly contrasting black and white plumage. No wonder I like to wear that color combination and use it to make quilts as well.
I took the above picture several years ago of one of a pair of Common Loons residing in our cove. I look forward to seeing and hearing their calls every summer. They have been very quiet so far this year for some reason. The only time that I have heard them is when a seaplane flies over. I can only guess that they are telling the seaplane (which is probably a giant bird to them) that this is THEIR territory and keep away.
Our water level was very high last year and remained high for many weeks. Our dock was under water for a long time. There were no loon babies in our cove last year and I surmised that their nest had been flooded. I am hoping that they will be more successful this year.
Until recently I had thought that one of the parents sits on the nest until the egg hatches but evidently that isn't necessarily so. The eggs (usually two) have to be turned on a regular basis (about once an hour for Common Loons) but the eggs don't have to be sat upon all of the time. Some studies have shown that loons only spent about 55 percent of the time on their nest but it probably depends on many factors especially the weather. On sunny, hot days the loons can probably leave incubation to mother nature for a while.
I listen for their calls which reassure me that all is well especially at night. There are four distinct calls which have been labelled the hoot (emitted softly and used between family members), wail (a call of interaction between 2 loons such as a loon calling its' mate to relieve it on the nest), tremolo (often compared to an insane laugh), and yodel (which is given only by the male and is a territorial warning).
If you are out on the water this summer, watch for loons but remember to keep your motor boat far away to protect one of our precious natural resources.