The lake is icy-green and in the distance almost blends into the sky through a fast moving fog bank. The bald eagles (a pair and one offspring) are up to something in the back, one of them making swings over the bay and then back into the yard where they are vocalizing quite a bit. The pair of loons that always nests on the point a few hundred meters across the bay have changed to their winter plumage and are actively feeding just outside the cabin, and have been for two days. This year, they did not successfully raise an offspring, which is unusual. so we didn’t get to see the cute baby loon riding around on the back of mom-dad. The bird expert I spoke to about this suggests lead poisoning as the most likely cause. I suspect that having your nest 150 yards northeast of a pair of eagles raising an offspring and 100 yards east of a barred owl nest could also have an impact.

Suddenly, the fog bank closes in and it turns out that it isn’t fog at all. Welcome to our first winter storm! And in the snow we can now see a pair of otters fishing not far from the loons; One of them gets a pretty big fish and seems determined to bring its livid bloodied body to shore for some reason. Whenever otters do something strange, we assume they are playing, but more likely there is some competition going on here. Into the marsh goes the otter. I suspect he’s got a girlfriend in there somewhere.

i-ac8aac8abdd0cfc886f25d406b8312a3-usgs_loon_migration.jpg

All of this is happening as I am googling to find out when these loony loons are supposed to migrate south. Turns out it varies, maybe November. In the process of looking this up, I found a site you will not want to miss. This is the product of a series of studies of loon migration, looking at Adirondack loons … which are, by the way, the loons I grew up with … and the site uses outstanding animations. This is a USGS site, and you can click here to visit.

The snow is turning to rain. There will be no yard work today.

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    October 26, 2008

    Those three migrations are all closer to east than to south.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    October 26, 2008

    Right. Loons basically migrate to and from the ocean.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    October 26, 2008

    Right. Loons basically migrate to and from the ocean.

  4. #4 Ana
    October 26, 2008

    Our Minnesota loons are the smartest! Straight to Florida!

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    October 26, 2008

    Right. These birds are only called ‘loons’ because the first ones seen by Europeans were the loony ones out east. Otherwise they’d be called something else ….

  6. #6 william
    October 27, 2008

    “Sanes”?