Date: 6/10/19 10:05 am From: Rick Pertile <Mugzy1960...> Subject: [wisb] Loon- nest/territory takeover attempt Saywer County
Greetings~ I'll start by saying WOW and that I'm still in disbelief of all that I just witnessed which I have no doubt was an attempt at a nest/territory takeover with our resident loons.
About an hour ago, I was outside on our back deck enjoying a cup of coffee on this beautiful cool morning. I had recently checked on the loon nest platform with one egg that should be hatching the end of this week. All seemed fine at about 7 a.m. Around 9:30 one of our loons starting screaming with the territorial call I so often hear when another flies over in spring. Soon after that, I heard splashing, lots of splashing. I grabbed my binoculars and could see two loons paddling across the water in circles over and over. One would occasionally dive and come up from underneath and in pursuit of what I knew had to be an intruder. At this time there were only 2 loons interacting, one of which I could see was our resident male (he has a prominent hook on the end of his upper mandible). I watched for awhile as this continued with both birds going out through the channel into the main part of the lake, only to return shortly afterward and continuing with the chase. I went back ins ide as it actually seemed to calm down slightly for a bit, grabbed more coffee then out to the back deck again. I could hear more ruckus starting up front on the lake side and it sounded even more aggressive this time so I got back up and went out front again to see what was going on. This time there were 3 birds interacting quite aggressively, with our male chasing the intruder and that bird actually attacking our resident female. With that being said, I figured the intruder had to be another female and clearly more dominant or at least more aggressive than our resident female from what I could see while this was all taking place. I decided to walk down to the dock with my binoculars, I SHOULD have brought my cell or camera but clearly had no idea what I was in for once I got down there.
I've read that when an intruder male shows up, the resident male fights as the female just sits by and watches, ultimately going with the winner. This is also supposed to be the scenario when an intruder female shows up, the male just sits by, watches and ends up with the winner. Apparently that is not always the case as both resident birds were fighting with this bird.
The nest platform is about 100 feet to the right of our dock in the bay and much of this aggression now was getting closer to this area. As much as the male tried to drive off this female, she persisted in attacking our resident female which I could see was being dominated and now backing down from the fight. I couldn't believe what happened after that.
I was standing at the end of our dock by the shoreline not even 2 feet out on the first section. The resident female was straight out from the dock and the male was chasing the intruder female out further in the bay. The intruder female made a straight shot for our resident female and attacked her. Our resident bird started flapping across the water directly towards the dock. I just stood there motionless as she got closer and being pursued by the intruder which she clearly was trying to get away from. She actually came up to the shoreline next to where I was standing on the dock and launched herself onto the dock behind me literally hitting my ankle with one wing when doing so (I couldn't make this up if I wanted to) and then pushed herself up on the second landscape timber on the shoreline leading up to the cabin. The intruder made an unsuccessful attempt to get on the dock and went back in the water and dove. I remained motionless, looking at our resident loon not 4 feet fr om me on shore just shaking/shivering and clearly completely exhausted. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! She stayed there about 5 minutes while the male again started to chase this bird in an attempt to drive it off. The male finally chased the intruder out into the channel and main part of the lake and returned alone. He and the resident female just floated next to each other by the platform and rested. They occasionally splashed a bit as if bathing. Soon afterward the female got up on the nest platform and immediately put her head under her wing and started sleeping while she incubated.
As of right now, all is quiet but I guess time will tell what the future holds for this nest and chick if the egg successfully hatches the end of this week.
I've seen some pretty amazing wildlife/bird scenarios in my decades of birding, but this no doubt probably surpasses them all.