The Mother (and Dad) Loon Story

Sometimes it’s tough to be a mother (or dad too, but I do not have direct experience in that role). The saga of a loon family on our lake this summer exemplifies the trials and tribulations of being a parent. The story begins in May on one of my first kayak outings of the year. I was kayaking in one of my favorite areas on the lake, a secluded bay where there are no houses and the natural shoreline (full of grass, reeds, brush, trees, etc.) is relatively undisturbed. Cruising the shoreline I came upon a loon nest with two eggs. While excited to see the nest, I did notice that it seemed more exposed than most, susceptible to both predators and the elements as well as motor boats. My concern was founded. A few days later someone reported that the nest was flipped sideways and had no eggs in it.

Loon Nest withTwo EggsDuring the last week of June I was kayaking with a friend in a different area of the lake, but relatively close to where I spotted the nest. While peering through the reeds looking for anything interesting, I saw the distinctive colors and patterns of a loon. Looking closer I concluded I was seeing a dead loon. The loon’s body and head appeared limp and lifeless, lying flat on a clump of grass in the reeds. With my camera in my lap, I began a mental dialogue debating the photo ethics of shooting a dead loon for scientific interest or just letting it rest in peace and paddling away. I turned to my friend who was paddling close by and asked if she was seeing what I was seeing. She indeed had seen the loon, and began to lament about the loon’s demise. All of a sudden there was a rustling in the reeds, and the loon rose up and flapped her way into the water. My friend later commented that the loon’s entry into the water looked like that of an injured bird, an easy target for prey. We began to put two and two together, while the loon swam back and forth close by us. Looking at the spot where the loon had been, sure enough, there was a nest with eggs.  We apologized profusely to Mrs. Loon for our disturbance, and quickly paddled out of the area.

baby loon swimming

Fast forward to the middle of July, once again out kayaking in the same area, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw a young loon out with her parents. (There were 2 eggs in the nest. I do not know the fate of the other.)

Two Loons looking for baby

I watched the family of loons for awhile, and I think I may have been observing a fishing lesson. The parents were making frequent dives, and I did see the little one make a couple quick dives in the close vicinity of her parents. Then I observed the little one go under, but did not see her surface. As I looked around for her, I got the sense that her parents were also wondering where she was.

Two Loons and BabyWhere’d she go? ……. Do you see her? …….. There she is.

Adult loon and baby loonI think she is getting scolded by her dad for going too far away and staying under too long, you know, worrying her parents.

two adult loons and baby loon swimming in a lineThe HAPPY family.


~ by Pinetree Photo Nature Discovery on August 1, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Mother (and Dad) Loon Story”

  1. Thank goodness for loon parents! The world would not be as beautiful without them.

  2. Great story, Carol! Thanks! It IS tough being a parent sometimes! 🙂

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