Who are These Loons? 4/23/18

Hazel, Iver and LJ

My neighbor and I have named all the pairs of loons on Upper Gull and the nearby lakes.  Because of the area's strong Scandinavian history, many of them were given Scandinavian names.  Ole and Lena nest on a platform tucked into the reeds in the channel entering Upper Gull.  They are always the first pair on the nest and usually successfully rear at least one chick.  Ingrid and Helge nest in the bay between Lost Lake Lodge and Causeway.  Hazel and Iver, named after two special people from the North Shore, nest in Bullhead Bay.  Ray and Myrt are named after Ray Little and his wife Myrtle, old time residents of Gull Lake and builder of my family's first cabin. They nest in the reeds of Bass Lake and often have their chicks later in June.  Sigrid and Leif nest on Spider Lake. 

2017 was a bad year for loon chicks.  Ole and Lena were on the nest early in the season.  We had a terrible snow and ice storm in early May.  I am not sure if that was the problem but their eggs did not hatch. We had heavy rains in May and June, and Ray and Myrt's nest was washed out.  They had no chicks in 2017.   The Spider Lake pair, Sigrid and Leif, also did not have any chicks,  The only pair that had chicks were Hazel and Iver.

The loons pictured in this collection are Hazel and Iver and their chicks Sibby and and LJ. It is difficult to tell male and female loons apart unless they are side by side.  Males are typically larger.  It is easy for me to tell Hazel and Iver apart because Hazel has a much finer and more pointed beak than Iver. (Photos of Iver will be posted soon.)

Once the chicks were old enough to venture away from their parents, Sibby was often off by herself at quite a distance from the adults.  As the chicks grew and reached the juvenile stage, Iver was often off fishing in the channel or was at the other end of the lake. Hazel was always near LJ, feeding and protecting him.  I worried that Sibby would be taken by a predator or would not have enough food to survive as she fended for herself.  Sometimes she would tag along with Hazel and LJ but Hazel did not show much interest in her.  LJ seemed to be constantly begging for food and Hazel always complied.  By  early September, LJ still was not fishing for himself, which is when he earned the name Lazy Junior.  Now the tables were turned!  I felt confident Sibby could take care of herself, but I was not sure LJ would survive without mama!  It wouldn't be long until the adults would migrate and leave the juveniles on their own until they migrated in late fall. Finally, at the end of September I spotted LJ with Sibby and he was fishing for himself.  A week or so later the adults were gone.  Both Sibby and LJ survived until they migrated.