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Recently-hatched Common Loon Chicks Stay Close to Parents

7-1-15   loon and chick  332The first few days of life for Common Loon chicks can be quite precarious. As soon as their down dries, the chicks are quick to leave their nest and enter the water, where they are not as vulnerable as far as land predators are concerned. However, there are dangers there, as well. Young chicks are exceptionally buoyant, and have difficulty maneuvering in the water. Parents must keep a close eye on them, so as to protect them from predators both above and below the water, such as Bald Eagles and Largemouth Bass. For the first two weeks or so parents provide protection for their young by ferrying them around on their backs much of the time. (Note egg tooth still remains on this two-day-old chick.)

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9 responses

  1. Love this photo, Mary!

    July 1, 2015 at 8:34 am

    • Thank you so much, Eliza. I took it yesterday, in fog that was so thick that you could barely see in front of your nose. It lifted slightly for a brief time, and I took this photo. Still not bright and sunny, but an interesting effect. How I love observing and photographing loons!

      July 1, 2015 at 8:48 am

      • I’m glad you do – it’s a great window for us!

        July 1, 2015 at 8:53 am

  2. Penny March

    How is the chick fed at this stage?

    July 1, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    • The adults catch tiny fish and crayfish and insects and swim up to the chick, whether it’s on its parent’s back or in the water, and holds the food until the chick grasps it in its own bill. Typically, at first, the chick drops the food, but the parent is so patient and will re-capture it over and over again until the chick does swallow it. I did a post on it last year, if you want to see a photo of it…

      https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/common-loons-feeding-chicks/

      July 1, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      • Penny March

        Thanks so much–great photos!!

        July 1, 2015 at 8:42 pm

  3. Sue Carr

    Hi Mary,

    My husband is putting together a book about birds of the Atlantic flyway. He has most of the pictures he’s looking for – but he’s missing a picture of a Common Loon with chicks. Can you help him find the spot he’s looking for to take a picture? We live on Cape Cod but spend lots of time in Montpelier where our daughter lives. Are you near Montpelier and is this loon near-by? (Perhaps it’s not a picture from this year.) If it’s a current picture and where ever, he’s ready to hop in the car. And he would keep a very respectful distance.

    Thanks for your help.

    Sue Carr, Brewster, MA 508-896-6696

    July 2, 2015 at 1:07 pm

  4. A beautiful photo Mary! We have “documented” twin loon chicks here on big Lake Sunapee for the first time in a really, really long time. I have not seen them yet but it’s very wonderful to know they have successfully hatched. (despite needing an artificial nest site float.)

    July 5, 2015 at 12:19 pm

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