Ah … summer in the Northwoods. Molly and I are spending quality time at our small Northstar Lake cabin. Our lake is far enough north that the small stream that empties from Northstar actually starts the water on its journey to Hudson’s Bay!
After dinner last night I asked my wife if she wanted to go birding with me. Normally the answer to this question is always “no”, but when birding actually meant “looning” I received an enthusiastic “yes” (read Molly’s account of looning). A short boat ride in our ancient smaller fishing boat (no ski boat for this guy) brought us within 100 yards of a pair of Loons and their chicks. Up here near the Minnesota Canadian border loon chicks have just hatched. I cut the engine and we started our slow drift towards the birds. Making certain never to stand up given a higher profile might disturb the loons, I worked our boat towards the loons using a canoe paddle. We stopped 25 yards away from the family, and thus began a delightful 1/2 hour with the Loons of Northstar Lake. Our slow approach had not frightened the loon family, and they proceeded with the evening fish and feed. At times the male loon, which was doing the hunting / fishing, would surface within a few yards of our boat. It would rest on the surface for 20 seconds and then dive again.
We could also hear the chicks and Mom softly communicating with one another. Every few minutes we would suddenly see air bubbles and a “V” wake working it’s way towards the Mom and chicks. The dad would then pop to the surface and deliver small minnows for the chick’s supper.
Twas truly a magic evening. We did not wish to overstay our welcome. Grabbing the canoe paddle I worked our way a bit more distant from the birds … started the outboard … and slowly started back to the cabin.
I hope you enjoy these photographs and videos of the Common Loon Family of Northstar Lake!
Feeding the Chicks
Hitching a Ride