ing year after year to the same territory. Males arrive first, yodeling
in excitement, checking things out
to be sure that strangers aren’t trying to muscle in. The ladies aren’t
I love to watch their courtship.
To me, it’s like an old-fashioned
dance. The loons swim toward each
other, red eyes flashing, then ceremoniously bow their long-billed
heads up and down several times.
Next they dive in tandem beneath
the surface. In a few moments they
reappear and repeat the movements
again and again. Eventually they
begin to examine the shore and ultimately our platforms. Usually these
are first choices for nesting.
Loons lay one or two large, kha-
ki-colored eggs. Incubation is shared
and takes about 29 days of sitting
under hot sun, storms, and clouds of
mosquitoes and blackflies. The bird
warming the eggs gives a special
wailing call when it wants its mate
to take over. If boats come too close,
the loon flattens down and stretches
its neck out like a white-collared
snake. Loons are so steadfast that
researchers in Wisconsin have been
able to lift a brooding bird on a boat
paddle, but we rely on binoculars
and respect their space.