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Common Loons: Brooding Chicks

7-2-14 common loon with chicks-broodingIMG_3215While loon chicks can swim as soon as their down dries, they are not able to regulate their body heat for their first two weeks of life and are dependent upon their parents for warmth. (A lot of the chick’s heat is lost through its feet when it is in the water.) Whereas most birds provide this warmth (in a process called brooding) in the nest, Common Loons brood their young on the water during this period. The chicks simply climb up the backs or sides of a parent while the parent raises its wing. Once the chicks are situated on the back of the loon, the adult lowers its wing, sheltering the vulnerable chicks from the elements. If the sun is out, the wind is slight and the temperature is warm, the chicks will come out from underneath the wing(s) and ride around enjoying the view. If the wind picks up or the temperature drops, the chicks will crawl back under their parent’s wings, totally hidden from view.

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5 responses

  1. I love that picture!

    July 2, 2014 at 11:30 am

  2. Bill Farr

    Hi Mary… You have explained to me in the past why loons are your favorite birds to photograph, now I see why! A most beautiful capture of a precious moment…
    Thanks for sharing them. BF

    July 2, 2014 at 11:34 am

  3. This is so wonderful. Love the photo.

    July 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm

  4. Tarun Johns

    What a wonderful series. I never realized that the chick was under a wing when I did not see it. Always learning something each day. Thank you for all of your great articles.

    July 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm

  5. That is so cool. Wonderful photo! Thanks, Mary.

    July 3, 2014 at 1:49 am

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