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Amateur's Guide: Maybe second time is a success

A tri-colored squirrel has made a home on 7th Crow Wing Lake. (Submitted photo)

The loons on our bay of the lake (Lower Bottle) are starting over after their nest was raided earlier this month.

On June 8, I saw them nesting, again eschewing the manmade platform they apparently don't like. They set up nesting quarters by the lake in tall grass - smack dab under a bald eagle's nest.

When we heard the donnybrook June 10, we knew the nest had been plundered, as it had been last year.

DNR loon expert Pam Perry said it takes about 10 to 14 days for the females to recycle.

"They can lay again and we are still seeing a lot of loons on nests," Perry said.

"It's only if they lose the eggs" that loons will nest a second time during a season, she said.

"They have a chance to raise one of two chicks, whatever they get, and if they lose the eggs early they will often re-lay and try again. That's kind of their backup plan."

Although the loons are back in a vulnerable location, Perry said, "We can't make them choose their spot. If they keep losing them they should be smart enough to look for a new spot."

She said sometimes it does happen that loons will sense danger and move their nesting area.

"That's why they keep going back to spots where they have been successful," she said.

The DNR and loon volunteers have been monitoring the population this summer because most of the Minnesota population wintered near the Gulf oil spill. Whether it affected reproduction or health is a question that likely won't be answered until fall at the earliest.

There are several pairs of loons on the Bottles. One pair has hatched a single chick. Others may be teens or chick-less.


Jim Larson and Adele Nelson brought in the most unusual photo of a multi-colored squirrel that frequents their 7th Crow Wing yard. It almost looked like a calico cat.

The creature is black, brown and off-white, all species of squirrels Larson says the couple has on the property, when Nelson doesn't have her BB-gun raised.

"She's a good shot," Larson said of Nelson, "but all she has to do is raise the gun and the squirrels are gone."

Larson used a zoom lens to capture his photo. Nelson won't use her gun on this specimen, he promised.


A former Big Mantrap Lake summer resident has begun a project that he hopes will eventually benefit the loon-nesting program on those waters.

Robert Pat Harris has painted a number of remembrances from his summers on the lake for United States Artists.

He explained it's a public charity and grant making organization.

"They help artists in a variety of disciplines (dance, theatre, film, photography, painting, etc.) raise funds for projects they are currently working on.   That makes it a fundraising site," he wrote.

"Each artist must describe their project in a narrative and make a short video explaining their project which must then be approved by USA before they post it to the USA site for a limited time.

"I am allowed sixty days to raise funds for the Mantrap Project on their site.  If I raise my minimum goal, the project will be funded and USA would receive 19 percent of the funds raised," he added.

"If I do not raise the minimum, the project goes unfunded and USA also receives nothing.

"I have been working on the Mantrap Project for over a year, making eleven paintings. and USA is helping me finance the creation of additional works in the series.  When people donate to the Mantrap Project, they receive a benefit or 'perk' for their support, such as a personal thank you or item of small monetary value in recognition of their support.  However, if an individual makes a large donation, they will receive a painting but these are very limited as perks, so it is not really a site to sell artwork. 

"My first exhibit of these paintings opened July 1 in Santa Fe and sales from this show are not linked to the USA Projects site.  Ten percent of sales from this exhibit will be donated to the Loon Nesting Program & the Invasive Species Program on Mantrap Lake.  Whenever I sell a work from this series, I will make that donation," Harris wrote.

"If you would like to see more works or view my resume, just visit: .

Harris said he hopes to vacation on the lake later this month.

His works of art are quirky and fun.

His video can be viewed at www.unitedstatesartists. org/project/mantrap.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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