Thursday, July 31, 2008

Blue Heron

The other day when I was paddling on my kayak as fast as I could to get to the Loon sounds on my lake, I did make a pit stop when I saw this Blue Heron walking along the shore. I am happy to report he lives on our lake too!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Loon dream come true!

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Shelley that really loved Loons. Her and her husband built a log cabin on a quiet lake and hoped that Loons would appear. Time went by and still no Loons. However, there was a Loon pair on a neighboring lake and Shelley fell in love with them. She became a Loon ranger to help protect and monitor them. Soon they had babies and all was wonderful in the world. Still...she longed for the day when she could be out looking at her own lake and seeing Loons nearby.
One day when she was out on the neighboring lake, a Loon invader appeared and the pair of resident loons chased him off. Shelley hoped and prayed this Loon invader would find her lake a good replacement. And to her amazement, he came to her lake! Now she needed him to stay and find a mate. The male Loon would sing daily - morning, dusk and sometimes even midnight. Shelley believed he was calling for a mate. Please, please let it happen. And then one day Shelley awoke and hear a "loon racket." She got in her kayak, paddled as fast as she could to the other end of the lake to make sure her male loon was not in trouble. And here is what she found...

A handsome male loon with his own private lake....what more could a lady loon want?

A beautiful female loon....

And a new Loon love story begins!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Loon parents on alert

The male and female Common Loon have the same coloring however if you look at the photos below, you can see that the male is larger - longer neck, longer bill and larger body. As I've mentioned before - they are both very diligent parents. Below you can see them extending their neck to check for any danger to their loon chicks. Eagles are the number one predator, followed by fish such as pike and large mouth bass. Once the chicks reach 6 weeks of age, they are able to outmaneuver most danger.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Following mom

"The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom."
-Henry Ward Beecher

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Loon babies have grown!

I want everyone to know that my husband was such a saint when I had him cruising his fishing boat all over the lake to search for my Loon family. We were way at the other end and had been looking for over 30 minutes when we heard the haunting Loon call from the other side of the lake. I was a backseat driver telling him to "be quiet", "no, go over there", "don't upset them" - anyways - thank you honey!
And look how big the babies have gotten! I love them!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Advice for my bird friends

Some advice for a few of my bird friends.

Hurry and eat that seed before the Mourning Doves & the Grackles come!

Mr. Starling - you need a bath. And you need to be nicer to the sparrows!

Don't even think about having more babies Mrs. Mourning Dove!

Hurry up Mr. Robin

Had to laugh yesterday as all these birds were congregated around the birdbath waiting for this Robin to finish up. Geez, can't a Robin have any privacy?!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Starling is a ladies man

It's alway nice to see a Starling take a bath and try to impress "the ladies."

"Come here often?"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Felix & Oscar

The rose-breasted grosbeak on the left is Felix and the one on the right is Oscar. This is how I imagined their conversation:

Felix: "Oscar, what's going on here? Your hair is a mess and the bird feeder is a mess!"

Oscar: "So what are you trying to say?" Snicker, snicker.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Someone is a little hungry

This female Grosbeak definitely had a beakful of seeds on this day!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Juvenile Bald Eagle

When the hubby and I were out fishing, we could hear the blue jay making a racket in the trees on the shoreline. Shortly thereafter, two juvenile eagles flew out - I'm sure because the blue jay was annoying them. They were so fast that I could only catch a photo of one of them in flight.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My other bird friends

I've been neglecting my other bird friends up at our Log Cabin. As KJ noted, I'm becoming a "LOONATIC!"

"Shelley, we think you are spending too much time on the Loons!"

"Hello! How about me over here? I'm as handsome as those Loons!"
"Don't worry kids, she loves us too much. She'll be back!"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Loon Ranger Story

Had to share this amazing story from the March 2008 Loon Echoes newsletter from Joanne C. Williams at Michigan Loonwatch.It seems as Loon Rangers observe the same Loons frequently, keeping a careful distance and not disturbing them - that the Loon will begin to trust you. They seem to understand that they are not in danger from the Loon Rangers.

One Loon came to a Ranger's cottage for its' chick that was in trouble. "They act much as a cat or dog would when wanting someone to follow them, calling to win attention and then moving away and returning in a gesture that seemed to say 'Please follow.' When the Ranger did, he found "a chick was struggling hard to stay afloat while being caught and pulled down by something under the water. The Ranger lifted the chick out and found a small turtle holding onto the little bird's foot. The young one was freed and returned to the parents waiting only three feet away."

I was not only touched by the Loon Ranger's dedication to helping the Loon, but by the devotion and sophistication of the Loon parents to seek help.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Loon Togetherness

My favorite part about this Loon family is their togetherness. When the mom and dad Loon were fishing, the babies stayed snuggled together. When the babies were practicing fishing - mom and dad were close to each other keeping a watchful eye on their chicks.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Loon Family Album

I can't sing the Loon's praises enough of what good parents they are. It's so touching watching the family interact together. Often times I would observe the Loon father always looking back to check on the loon chicks while they were swimming across the lake.

Daddy is keeing a close eye on his chicks!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Loon Break - Meet the Belted Kingfisher

I know I've been posting dozens of Loon photos this past week, but I did see other birds on Bradford Lake. Meet the Belted Kingfisher! This was exciting for me as this was the first time I had seen this bird! Like the Loon, it also likes to dive into the water and catch fish.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Common Loon in flight

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
-Albert Einstein

Friday, July 11, 2008

Loon chick learning to fish

It's time for the Loon mom to observe her loon chick's fishing skills.

If you look to the far right of this photo, you can see the loon chick with his head underwater. He was mimicking his mother and I believe looking for fish.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Territorial Loon

The Loon is very territorial and you typically won't find more than one mating pair on a lake that's under 50 acres. Sometimes the juvenile loon will return to its natal lake the following year which might've been the case in the scenario below. The mating pair is very protective of their babies and will go after any Loon they perceive as a threat.

Here is the Loon eyeing his invader.

The chase ensues!

I am gaining on you!

Gotcha! (He nipped the invader on the butt seconds after this photo was taken.)

The Loon invader is out of here!

And don't come back!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Follow the leader

It's so endearing to watch these Loon chicks follow their parents so closely.

Follow the leader!

Looks like someone has a leg cramp!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Don't upset the Loon!

Loon week continues on my blog! Here's the father Loon giving a warning to some fishermen that were too close to their family. Loons need their privacy and space and can become very sensitive to disturbance. When upset - they will give their tremolo call (that Loon laugh - hence the phrase crazy like a Loon) and they will stand up out of the water and flap their wings to make themselves appear bigger. I am happy to report the fishermen moved on and the father settled down. It is best to keep zoom camera lens distance around the families.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Feeding the Loon Chicks

I got such a thrill watching the Loon parents hunt for fish for their babies. The Loon father was an exceptionally good fisherman and was handing fish after fish to his two chicks.

I think Daddy has a fish for you.

Watch how carefully he hands the fish to his chick.
Thank you Daddy!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Proud Loon Parents

Loons are such good parents. These two stayed close to their babies, feeding them and keeping an eye out for predators. Within 48 hours of hatching, these loon chicks leave the nest and are swimming in the water. The chicks are vulnerable until about 13 weeks of age - and then they can swim and dive better to elude danger.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Common Loon Taking Off

I am going to forewarn you, I took about 200 Loon photos this past week. (These were the pair of Loons and their babies that I'm watching over as a Loon Ranger.) I spent several hours Thursday morning following them at a distance and snapping as many photos as possible. This and probably next week will be LOON WEEK for my blog. I can't wait to show you the babies. Here's a photo of the male Loon taking off from Big Bradford Lake in Gaylord. They run across the water to pick up speed and then they are able to take off and fly. It was amazing to witness!