Common Loons with Chicks in Sawyer County Wisconsin on July 2, 2016

On a recent trip to Sawyer County in Northern Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to watch and enjoy Common Loons with the chicks. These chicks were already very big, while I also came across an adult sitting on a nest. Also present and something I see every year were groups of 3-8 Common Loon adults gathered at sunrise as if they were having coffee. Then they split up and go out their separate ways an hour or so after sunrise. Another observation was an adult, just one adult present at this time, lays low in the water. Moments later I hear the sound of wings from behind me, I look up, 3 adult loons fly over the area in front of me. No loons in sight, they have all disappeared under the water, even the chicks. 15-20 seconds later, they all surface. A couple minutes later and adult loon flies in and joins the 3, now were have 2 adults and 2 chicks. What just took place?? I keep learning new things about these magnificent birds while a spend time watching them. Images were taken during the last few days of June and a couple of days in July 2016.

Common Loon adult with chick

Common Loon

Binomial name: Gavia immer

Category: Loons

Description: Black head with black and white checkered body in summer for breeding season; brown and white body in the winter.  Blackish-blue bill that is held horizontally and black feet.

Size: 24″-40″ long, 4′ – 5′ wingspan

Weight: 4 lbs. – 8 lbs.

Habitat: Large lakes and shorelines

Diet: Fish (perch, trout, sunfish, bass, crayfish)

Nesting: Usually nests on small islands or other locations safe from land-based predators.  The nest may be made out of thin sticks, dried grasses, or a depression in mud or sand.  Typically 1 to 3 eggs will be laid at one time and will be incubated by both parents.  The parents aggressively protect their nests and share the responsibility of feeding the young.  Baby loons may be seen riding on the back of either parent in the water.

Notes: The Common Loon has legs positioned in the rear of its body.  This makes for excellent diving and graceful swimming; however, it also makes for awkward landings and clumsy walking.  In fact, Loons require a “runway” spanning 30 yards or 1/4 mile for take-off and landing AND it can only be done in water.  Loons have actually been stranded in small ponds, icy lakes, or even a parking lot without a suitable runway and must be rescued.

Common Loon adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, adult on nest

Common Loon, adult on nest

Common Loon, adult on nest

Common Loon, adult on nest

Common Loon, adult on nest

Common Loon, adult on nest

Common Loon, adult on nest rolling over eggs

Common Loon, adult on nest turning eggs over

Common Loon, adult on nest

Common Loon, adult on nest

Common Loon, adult on nest, view of nesting site

Common Loon, adult on nest, view of nesting site

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, chick stretching

Common Loon, chick stretching

Common Loon, adult with chick

Common Loon, adult with chick

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, chick, adults bring the chicks to a sandy shoreline area for the walking on land. Common Loons only walk a short distance and that occurs at nesting time. Their nests are typically 1 foot or less from water.

Common Loon, chicks at the shore

Common Loon, chick, one reason a chick needs to learn how to walk is to walk on shore for nesting

Common Loon, chick need to learn to walk a short distance for nesting

Common Loon, a chick walks on shore

Common Loon, chick need to learn to walk a short distance for nesting

Common Loon, a chick on shore

Common Loon, chick, walking on the beach

Common Loon, a chick walks on shore

Common Loon, chick, walking on the beach

Common Loon, a chick walks on shore

Common Loon, chick training time on the beach

Common Loon, chick walking back into water

Common Loon, chick eating a worm

Common Loon, chick eating a worm on shore

Common Loon, chick heading back out into the water after a short walk on shore

Common Loon, chick heading back out into the water after a short walk on shore

Common Loon, chick stretching

Common Loon, chick starting the stretch

Common Loon, chick stretching a leg

Common Loon, chick stretching a leg

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult stretching

Common Loon, adult stretching with chicks nearby

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick preening

Common Loon, chick stretching

Common Loon, chick stretching

Common Loon, chick with fish

Common Loon, chick with fish

Common Loon, chick with fish

Common Loon, chick with fish

Common Loon, chick with fish, gulp!

Common Loon, chick, gulp!

Common Loon, adult taking off

Common Loon, adult taking off

Common Loon, adult taking off

Common Loon, adult taking off

Common Loon, adult taking off

Common Loon, adult taking off

Common Loon, adult with chicks

Common Loon, adult with chicks

Common Loon, adult with chicks

Common Loon, adult with chicks

Common Loon, chicks

Common Loon, chicks

They are always watching!

They are always watching!

Common Loon, adult stretching

Common Loon, adult stretching

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, chick in search of food in shallow water, just like the adults taught them them

Common Loon, chick in search of food in shallow water, just like the adults taught them

Common Loon, chick in search of food in shallow water, just like the adults taught them them

Common Loon, chick in search of food in shallow water, just like the adults taught them

Common Loon, chick in search of food in shallow water, just like the adults taught them them

Common Loon, chick in search of food in shallow water, just like the adults taught them

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, chick getting the catch, you can do it as the adult watches

Common Loon, chick getting the catch, you can do it as the adult watches

Common Loon, adults

Common Loon, adults

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

They are always watching!

They are always watching!

Common Loon, adult bringing a fish to the chicks

Common Loon, adult bringing a fish to the chicks

Common Loon, chicks

Common Loon, chicks

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, adult stretching

Common Loon, adult stretching

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, chick

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult watching a chick search for food

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult over sees the chick getting food

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult with chick

Common Loon, adult with chick

Common Loon, adult with chicks

Common Loon, adult

Common Loon, adult

Common Loons in Sawyer County Wisconsin on July 3, 2015

On a recent trip to Sawyer County in Northern Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to watch and enjoy Common Loons with the chicks. I keep learning new things about these magnificent birds while a spend time watching them. Images were taken during the last week or so of June 2015.

Common Loon with a resting chick

Common Loon with a resting chick

Common Loon

Binomial name: Gavia immer

Category: Loons

Description: Black head with black and white checkered body in summer for breeding season; brown and white body in the winter.  Blackish-blue bill that is held horizontally and black feet.

Size: 24″-40″ long, 4′ – 5′ wingspan

Weight: 4 lbs. – 8 lbs.

Habitat: Large lakes and shorelines

Diet: Fish (perch, trout, sunfish, bass, crayfish)

Nesting: Usually nests on small islands or other locations safe from land-based predators.  The nest may be made out of thin sticks, dried grasses, or a depression in mud or sand.  Typically 1 to 3 eggs will be laid at one time and will be incubated by both parents.  The parents aggressively protect their nests and share the responsibility of feeding the young.  Baby loons may be seen riding on the back of either parent in the water.

Notes: The Common Loon has legs positioned in the rear of its body.  This makes for excellent diving and graceful swimming; however, it also makes for awkward landings and clumsy walking.  In fact, Loons require a “runway” spanning 30 yards or 1/4 mile for take-off and landing AND it can only be done in water.  Loons have actually been stranded in small ponds, icy lakes, or even a parking lot without a suitable runway and must be rescued.

Common Loon with a chick

Common Loon with a chick

Adult Common Loon, the young chick just resting on her back

Adult Common Loon, the young chick just resting on her back

Common Loon with 2 chicks

Common Loon with 2 chicks

Common Loon

Common Loon

Feeding time

Adult Common Loon feeding the young. In my observations the female rests with the chicks off feeding time. The adult male is no where to be seen but at feeding time shows up by flying into the area and landing or just appears out of nowhere along a shoreline or moves in from along ways off in underwater swimming.

Feeding time

Feeding time

Adult stretching

Adult stretching

Adult stretching

Adult stretching

Adult stretching

Adult stretching

Feeding time

Feeding time

Chick

Chick

This adult doing the YODEL call. Moments before a different adult was calling  from a distant location and could not be seen. These 2 adults layed very low in the water almost appeared as they were trying to hide but being on alert.

This adult was doing the YODEL call. Moments before a different adult was calling from a distant location but could not be seen. These 2 adults layed very low in the water, almost appeared they were trying to hide but still being on alert.

Common Loon family

Common Loon family

Adult Common Loon with a chick under the adult wing. I observed 2 chicks under the wings of an adult for well over an hour and I could not see them until the came out, amazing!

Adult Common Loon with a chick under the adult wing and 1 standing by. I observed 2 chicks under the wings of an adult for well over an hour and I could not see them until the came out, amazing!

The stretch

The stretch

The stretch

The stretch

Common Loon family with 2 chicks, one feeding

Common Loon family feeding chicks on the back of an adult

Feeding time

Feeding time

Feeding time

Feeding time

An adult at take off time on the water, going from a long run finally taking to the air.

An adult at take off time on the water, going from a long run finally taking to the air.

In this image there are 5 adult, which I think are males, but this is only a guess. I have observed adults gather for years in the early morning, then departing going their separate ways. I have also observed adults gathering, leaving the group, going to help the female feed young, then retuning to a group.  It appears at feeding time the male shows up, they feed young, the male leaves the area returns later, etc.

In this image there are 5 adult, which I think are males, but this is only a guess. I have observed adults gather for years in the early morning, then departing going their separate ways. I have also observed adults gathering, leaving the group, going to help the female feed young, then retuning to a group.

In the morning fog, Common Loon with chick

In the morning fog, Common Loon with chicks

Adult Common Loon preening

Adult Common Loon preening

Adult Common Loon preening

Adult Common Loon preening

Common Loon

Common Loon

Great Blue Heron just hanging out

Great Blue Heron just hanging out

American Bald Eagle

American Bald Eagle

Black Bear swimming across a channel

Black Bear swimming across a channel

Black Bear reaching the other shore after a long swim across the channel

Black Bear reaching the other shore after a long swim across the channel

White-tailed Deer, doe

White-tailed Deer, doe

White-tailed Deer, doe

White-tailed Deer, doe

Red-throated Loons at Coal Dock Park in Port Washington Wisconsin on February 26, 2015

I went up to Port Washington this morning to see if the reported Red-throated Loons were present. I stopped at Coal Dock Park first. After getting out of my car, I spotted a known birder coming back from the end of the walk on the east end. He looked frozen solid. I asked him briefly about the loons, and he pointed right to where they were pretty far out, but inside the breakwall, thank you! There were 10 present. He said there were up to 11 at once there. He also said the loons had been there 13 days now. The Red-throated Loons stayed in that area for the time I was there today, except for one that came in towards the channel. That loon did not really come in all that close but it provided for some better views. The loon that came in seemed to spend most of it’s time underwater. It usually was only on the water surface for ~5-10 seconds. The loon  usually surfaced a long distance from where it went under so you just had to look everywhere for it to see it come back up. Other species present were species that had been recently reported by other birders. It was a very cold day at about 5-10 degrees with good winds out of the northwest, but well worth seeing these beautiful birds. Thanks to all who kept reports coming on these birds so others can view them as they are not very common here. Some of the images look a little foggy as fog was rolling across the harbor water while I was there today. Images were taken on February 26, 2015.

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Red-throated Loon

Binomial name: Gavia stellata

Category: Loons

Description: Dark gray feathers with a white throat and underparts, small black and white strips on the back of its neck.  In breeding season, the throat turns red, thus the name.  Small bill which fluctuates between black and dark gray.

Size: 21” – 27” long, 36” – 47” wingspan

Weight: 2.2 lbs. – 6.0 lbs.

Habitat: Large lakes, coastal shorelines, inland rivers, and reservoirs.

Diet: Primarily fish, occasionally crustaceans, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates, rarely plants

Nesting: Both parents build the nest out of a mudscrape lined with plant material and some feathers.  The male will stand guard while the female incubates the eggs (2 eggs per clutch).  Both parents feed and raise the young and participate in distraction displays to lure predators away from the nest.  Mating pairs will breed for life.

Notes: Unlike other loon species which must take flight by running on the surface of water, the Red-throated Loon can fly directly from land or water.  It also does not carry its young on its back.

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Getting ready for the dive

Getting ready for the dive

The dive

The dive

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The dive

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The dive

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The resurface

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

A stretch in the rolling fog

Possible 11 Red-throated Loons

Possible 11 Red-throated Loons

Distant Great Black-backed Gull circle fly over

Distant Great Black-backed Gull circle fly over

Distant Great Black-backed Gull circle fly over

Distant Great Black-backed Gull circle fly over

Common Loons, Great Blue Herons and more Sawyer County Wisconsin June 22-26, 2014

On a recent trip to Sawyer County in Northern Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to watch and enjoy Common Loons with a chick, Great Blue Herons, American Bald Eagles and more. Images were taken June 22-26, 2014.

Common Loon stretching with young watching.

Common Loon adult stretching with chick watching.

Common Loon

Binomial name: Gavia immer

Category: Loons

Description: Black head with black and white checkered body in summer for breeding season; brown and white body in the winter.  Blackish-blue bill that is held horizontally and black feet.

Size: 24″-40″ long, 4′ – 5′ wingspan

Weight: 4 lbs. – 8 lbs.

Habitat: Large lakes and shorelines

Diet: Fish (perch, trout, sunfish, bass)

Nesting: Usually nests on small islands or other locations safe from land-based predators.  The nest may be made out of thin sticks, dried grasses, or a depression in mud or sand.  Typically 1 to 3 eggs will be laid at one time and will be incubated by both parents.  The parents aggressively protect their nests and share the responsibility of feeding the young.  Baby loons may be seen riding on the back of either parent in the water.

Notes: The Common Loon has legs positioned in the rear of its body.  This makes for excellent diving and graceful swimming; however, it also makes for awkward landings and clumsy walking.  In fact, Loons require a “runway” spanning 30 yards or 1/4 mile for take-off and landing AND it can only be done in water.  Loons have actually been stranded in small ponds, icy lakes, or even a parking lot without a suitable runway and must be rescued.

Common Loon with young

Common Loon with chick.

Common Loon stretching

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon stretching.

Common Loon young.

Common Loon chick.

Common Loon young calling for food.

Common Loon chick calling.

Common Loon with chick.

Common Loon with chick.

Common Loon

Common Loon at takeoff.

Common Loon

Common Loon

Common Loon feeding chick.

Common Loon feeding chick.

Common Loon chick.

Common Loon chick with food.

Common Loon chick.

Common Loon chick.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron coming in for a landing.

Great Blue Heron coming in for a landing.

Great Blue Heron fishing on shore.

Great Blue Heron fishing on shore.

Great Blue Heron fishing on shore.

Great Blue Heron fishing on shore.

Great Blue Heron fishing.

Great Blue Heron fishing on shore.

American Woodcock, it was struting at this time shifting it's weight from foot to foot.

American Woodcock, was doing a strut at this time shifting it’s weight from foot to foot.

American Bald Eagle adult perched in a tree.

American Bald Eagle adult perched in a tree.

A Chestnut-sided Warbler bringing a variety of food items to a nest for the chicks.

A Chestnut-sided Warbler bringing a variety of food items to a nest for the chicks.

Red-throated Loons Milwaukee River Mouth, Milwaukee Lakefront, February 23, 2014

The area of the mouth of the Milwaukee River on the Milwaukee Lakefront produced 3 Red-throated Loons. Some of the other species present and photographed were White-winged Scoters, Common Goldeneyes, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Greater Scaups.

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Red-throated Loon

Red-throated Loon

Binomial name: Gavia stellata

Category: Loons

Description: Dark gray feathers with a white throat and underparts, small black and white strips on the back of its neck.  In breeding season, the throat turns red, thus the name.  Small bill which fluctuates between black and dark gray.

Size: 21” – 27” long, 36” – 47” wingspan

Weight: 2.2 lbs. – 6.0 lbs.

Habitat: Large lakes, coastal shorelines, inland rivers, and reservoirs.

Diet: Primarily fish, occasionally crustaceans, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates, rarely plants

Nesting: Both parents build the nest out of a mudscrape lined with plant material and some feathers.  The male will stand guard while the female incubates the eggs (2 eggs per clutch).  Both parents feed and raise the young and participate in distraction displays to lure predators away from the nest.  Mating pairs will breed for life.

Notes: Unlike other loon species which must take flight by running on the surface of water, the Red-throated Loon can fly directly from land or water.  It also does not carry its young on its back.

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Red-throated Loon

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Red-throated Loon

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Red-throated Loon

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Red-throated Loon

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Red-throated Loon

White-winged Scoter

White-winged Scoter

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Female Common Goldeneye

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Male Common Goldeneye

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Male Red-breasted Merganser

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Female Red-breasted Merganser

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Male Greater Scaup

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Male Greater Scaup

Common Loon

On a recent trip to Sawyer County in Northern Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to photograph Common Loons.  This graceful bird has an enchanting call that has inspired numerous Native American tales and even a novel.  The Common Loon has been featured on Canadian currency and is also the state bird of Minnesota.

I have also included some images taken last summer at the same location.

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon

Binomial name: Gavia immer

Category: Loons

Description: Black head with black and white checkered body in summer for breeding season; brown and white body in the winter.  Blackish-blue bill that is held horizontally and black feet.

Size: 24″-40″ long, 4′ – 5′ wingspan

Weight: 4 lbs. – 8 lbs.

Habitat: Large lakes and shorelines

Diet: Fish (perch, trout, sunfish, bass)

Nesting: Usually nests on small islands or other locations safe from land-based predators.  The nest may be made out of thin sticks, dried grasses, or a depression in mud or sand.  Typically 1 to 3 eggs will be laid at one time and will be incubated by both parents.  The parents aggressively protect their nests and share the responsibility of feeding the young.  Baby loons may be seen riding on the back of either parent in the water.

Notes: The Common Loon has legs positioned in the rear of its body.  This makes for excellent diving and graceful swimming; however, it also makes for awkward landings and clumsy walking.  In fact, Loons require a “runway” spanning 30 yards or 1/4 mile for take-off and landing AND it can only be done in water.  Loons have actually been stranded in small ponds, icy lakes, or even a parking lot without a suitable runway and must be rescued.

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

To see the full gallery of images, please click here.