Monday, October 28, 2013

Singleton Lake Loons 2013

Singleton parent and chick -July
Two loon chicks hatched out from the nest on the edge of one of our rocky islands. They ignored the cedar floating raft this year but were still surprisingly successful. A pair of bald eagles grabbed one of the chicks in June. The surviving chick was still on the lake as of Thanksgiving - the parents having abandoned it for southern skies in September. 
Here is some extra in formation that I found interesting...

Loons prefer clear lakes because they can more easily see their prey through the water. The loon stabs or grasp their prey with their pointy bills. They eat the prey headfirst  and swallow the prey whole. Loons swallow small pebbles, similar to grit eaten by chickens, to assist the loon's gizzard in crushing the hard parts of the prey. Loons may inadvertently ingest lead pellets, released by anglers and hunters, that contribute to lead poisoning and the loon's eventual death.
Despite the roughly equal participation of the sexes in nest building and incubation, analysis has clearly shown that males select the nest location. Thus male loons and not the females, establish their territories. This explains why the resident males fight so hard to defend their territories.
Contrary to popular belief, pairs seldom mate for life. A typical adult loon is likely to have several mates during its lifetime because of territorial takeover. Each breeding pair must frequently defend its territory against "floaters" (territory-less adults) trying to evict at least one owner and seize the breeding site. Territories that have produced chicks in the past year are especially prone to takeovers, because nonbreeding loons use chicks as cues to indicate high-quality territories. One-third of all territorial evictions among males result in the death of the owner; in contrast, female loons usually survive. Birds that are displaced from a territory but survive usually try to remate and (re)claim a breeding territory later in life.
Most clutches consist of two eggs, which are laid in May or June. Loon chicks are able to swim and dive right away, but will often ride on their parents' back during their first 2 weeks to rest, conserve heat, and avoid predators.
Chicks are fed mainly by their parents for about six weeks but gradually begin to feed themselves over time. By 3 months, chicks gather almost all of their own food and have begun to fly.  Typically only one chick survives.
Singleton chick Thanksgiving weekend

No comments: