Loon Family in the Mist
Many years ago I listened to a presentation about loons. One thing I remember is the biologist explaining that though loons usually have two young, the second chick is for insurance. The small clutch of two eggs and their relative success is tied to the needs of a single loon. They eat a substantial amount of fish and need good size territories of their own on a lake or body of water that is large enough for their long distance run on top of the water to obtain flight. The biologist quite frankly said, 'Where would they all go if both young survived?' After a moment, sad though it seemed to most of us, it made sense like most things in nature.
So finding this parent loon with two offspring was interesting to me. One of the juveniles was larger than the other and in late September was content to feed more or less on its own, even wandering to opposite parts in the lake from its family. Its sibling was still quite tied to the parent begging for food by sliding its neck around and along the adult's neck and face. Some tough love had to be balanced with supplying the youngster with some meals and this is seen with the adult encouraging the young one by not always feeding it. I only see one parent at this late date and wonder if like plovers, one adult, usually the male in case of the piping plover, gets left with parenting duty while the other adult migrates. I think these young are a result of a late renesting, because it is not uncommon that adults start leaving their young on their own in August. I didn't see any rowing by the larger youngster or attempts at practice flights, which I have also seen in August. A lot has to happen for these two young to be able to be self sufficient, fly, and begin their migration before the ice sets in. I believe they can!