Like many flowering plants that blossomed two or three weeks early this year, Great Northern Loons (previously called Common Loons) got an early start to their nesting season. While some adults are still sitting on eggs, some chicks can be seen hitching a ride with their parents. Even though chicks can swim as soon as their down dries, their inability to regulate their body temperature for the first two weeks and their need for protection from predators at this vulnerable time, they are brooded on the backs and under the wings of their parents. After a couple of weeks, however, the chicks are under their own steam and can be seen bobbing in the water near their parents. (Kayakers and photographers — extreme caution should be taken to avoid approaching loon nesting areas too close at this time of year.)
Unlike most birds’ eggs, those of the red-winged blackbird hatch asynchronously – that is, they don’t all hatch at the same time. Instead, their hatching is spread over several days. During seasons when food is short, the young which hatch last often starve, as the earlier-hatched young, being larger and stronger, are the first to be fed, and thus deprive their siblings of food. Having eggs hatch in succession is believed to be an adaptation that allows the size of the surviving brood to balance with the amount of available food.