First loon chick hatches June 4 on Fish Hook Lake

A loon mother successfully nested in a natural area, several feet away from an artificial nest on Fish Hook Lake and her chick hatched out Monday, June 4, according to Janice and Leroy Chief.

A loon mother successfully nested in a natural area, several feet away from an artificial nest on Fish Hook Lake and her chick hatched out Monday, June 4, according to Janice and Leroy Chief.

"Being a mother is not for the faint of heart!" wrote Janice. The loon mother "worked hard to build up her nest over this past weekend with the rain. She kept adding on to it while she sat on the nest."

Janice said they also had baby geese on shore by June 4.

Water birds aren't the only ones drawing attention at the Chiefs, however. Not only have Janice and Leroy seen a yellow-bellied sapsucker eating suet cakes this past week, they watched a red-bellied woodpecker fill its beak with pulp from the orioles' oranges and fly off into the trees - to feed babies, Janice guessed. This red-belly hangs around all year.

I don't have any new bird sightings to report, but I'm seeing a huge amount of activity at the hummingbird feeders this year. I'm guessing anywhere from 15 to 18 birds hover around the feeders at peak feeding times. And the babies haven't even arrived yet.



Over the weekend as the loon mother was trying to add to her nest, we received 2.3 inches of rain here in the meadow. John Weber reported 1.75 inches at Spider Lake and Stan from Becida reported 1.4 inches.

As I write this column Thursday morning, June 7, strong storms are allegedly moving into the area, but so far we have received just .2 of an inch of rain for the day.

Airy inhabitants

I saw a six-spotted tiger beetle Tuesday, June 5, flying along the drive and landing, flying and landing. This is the bug I sometimes call the "Mountain Dew beetle," because of its color.

John Weber said the 2007 mass emergence of dragonflies has continued in "fits and starts." Spiny baskettails emerged May 27, and both mature and immature chalk-fronted corporals were on the wing June 3. He spotted the first calico pennant dragonfly June 3.

I'd like to correct an error I made in my May 26 column: Many chalk-fronted corporal dragonflies had their corporal stripes by Memorial Day, not their "admiral" stripes as I incorrectly stated. Sorry - I think I had red admiral butterflies on the brain!

John saw the first pearl crescent and white admiral butterflies Sunday, June 3. This was also the day he saw the first monarch instar caterpillar.


Chickadee update

John Weber gave me some data on chickadees that supports the observation Nell made last week about declining numbers of one of our hardiest year-round residents.

In 13 years of observing chickadees for Cornell's winter Project FeederWatch, the Webers counted an all-time high of 33 chickadees in the winter of 1994-95. By the following year that number had dropped to 22, and in 1999-2000 the Webers counted just 15 chickadees for the two-day feeder watch.

For the past two winters, the numbers have been the worst of all: just 14 chickadees showed at the Spider Lake feeders.

The increasing numbers of chickadees I reported last week may have been the result of more and more people taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) rather than an increase in the chickadee population.

This is not good news.


Stan from Becida saw a pair of sandhill cranes "dancing over on Gould Hill" June 1. The next day, Stan saw "another pair" of cranes over by Diamond Lake.


I saw three sandhill cranes fly over the patio the morning of June 7. They were flying silently this time, but many mornings I hear them before I see them.

For some good background information on sandhills, including recordings of the different calls the birds make, go to and click on the sandhill links.


The veery is the thrush whose call is sometimes described as water going down a drain.

Which bird (heard just this morning in the meadow) has more than 4,600 songs in its repertoire, according to ornithologist Don Kroodsma, author of "The Singing Life of Birds?"

Thanks to all who wrote with news. When sending your reports, be sure to give your name and a little information on where you made your sighting. Send to .

This column is brought to you by Park Ace Hardware.

We have all your needs to keep your feathered friends happy. Stop in and see us today.


Open seven days a week, Ace is located on Highway 71 south, Park Rapids, 732-4513. Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.

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