An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Common Loons: Feeding Chicks

7-4-14 loons feeding 202Both parents provide their young with food (small fish, crayfish, etc.) several times an hour, especially early and late in the day. (This practice continues, in a more limited way, long after the young loons can provide for themselves, right up until the parents migrate — before the juveniles — in the fall.) Often food delivery takes place when the chick is in the water, but occasionally it occurs while the chick is on the parent’s back during its first week or so of life. Initially the adult loon catches prey, swims up to its chick while holding the prey in its beak until the chick grasps it and swallows it. By the third week, the parents start dropping the fish or crayfish in the water in front of the chick, forcing it to learn how to catch its own food. Needless to say, in the beginning, the adults must have great patience, retrieving and dropping the prey time after time while the chick acquires the skills necessary to catch it. (Photo: Adult with fish approaches mate while making a soft mewing sound. Mate raises wing, chick emerges and reaps the benefit of home delivery.)

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6 responses

  1. judilindsey@comcast.net

    Mary,

     This is too cute!

    Thanks, Judi

    July 3, 2014 at 10:28 am

  2. Jean Pace

    These last few photos of loons have been just spectacular. Thanks so much.

    July 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm

  3. Sally Gage

    Fantastic photos!

    July 3, 2014 at 12:46 pm

  4. viola

    The most incredible pictures in this loon series, Mary. Makes me intrigued by them even more. Thank you, thank you!

    July 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm

  5. Kathie Fiveash

    Thank you Mary for all the beautiful loon photos, and for all the interesting detailed info.

    July 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm

  6. This is an incredible, perfectly-timed photo! I’ve totally enjoyed learning all about loons this week. Thanks, Mary!

    July 4, 2014 at 6:54 pm

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