July 30 – August 5, 2021Vol. 23, No. 8

Monitoring the Chicks

by Dick Greenan

Chicks will ride on a parent's back for their first 2-3 weeks of life to rest and warm up.

This is the season for loon chicks throughout the Northeast and, as we stated last week, it's been a good and productive summer here in the Belgrades, at least loon-wise! The weather has been another story!

We are now monitoring eleven chicks between both Great and Long Ponds, which is great compared to last year's total of just four that fledged. In other words, only four made it to twelve weeks of age or so and were able to adequately feed themselves and fly off with the fall's migration.

A wide-eyed, two-day-old chick on Long Pond.

With eleven chicks this year, we're really able to observe some interesting feedings and sometimes, attempted feedings with adult crayfish that are just too large to swallow or a sunfish that's twice the size of the chick's head! These can be trying times for everybody.

Chicks are able to chase and catch their own prey at about four to six weeks but can always count on a free lunch from Mom and Dad until they fledge or, until their parents just get fed up with them! Sound familiar? And they appear to be constantly eating as they do need to eat approximately 40% of their weight every day.

Both parents feeding their chick with a crayfish and a golden shiner — at the same time!

Dick Greenan is chairman of the Belgrade Lakes Association's Loon Preservation Project. If you have a particular question regarding our Belgrade loon population, please email your inquiry to info@blamaine.org, and he will try to answer you either in this column or via email.