Loon Chronicles V: What about these big wings

The last two weeks were insanely busy and entertaining in White Bear Lake’s Loon world. As predicted, flying lessons are now underway and watching the chicks work their big new wings has been both suspenseful and comical. Chicks, like their parents, need a long runway to become airborne. The chicks are still trying to figure out how long they need to blast along the waves before lifting up into the air. They are getting closer to successful execution, but so far all speed and no lift. We suspect that they are still trying to come to grips with their powerful wings. After one failed attempt, we spotted the chick (top right frame) pausing, for just a moment, to check the feathers under its wing, in apparent disbelief with what had just happened. The parents continue to take shifts watching over the chicks and delivering fish. The chicks are spending more and more time on their own and can stay under water for longer periods of time. No matter how far apart, they always end up finding each other, often circling and staring at each other with each reunion. A new chick arrived last week, accompanied by one of the old warrior. The chick is slightly smaller than our chicks, but already knows how to fly. On Sunday, we spotted all three chicks swimming and diving together. In the coming weeks, chicks from other lakes will start to gather on WBL, as the parents and older Loons prepare to leave in early October. The group of rafting bachelors, which now includes a pair of emerging adults and a uniquely colored juvenile Loon, has grown to a head count of up to eight. The Eagles remain an annoying presence, but the Loons’ safety plan continues to be effective. Hopefully, the Coots will arrive soon. Wishing you all a safe and healthy Labor Day weekend.

 

— Ellen Maas

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