UPDATE 6/4/2016 :
The north platform loons have two baby chicks born on Thursday and Friday June 4th and 5th. You’ll have to travel up past the power lines to see them as they will most likely stay on the north end near the platform.
Expect the south platform loons to have their chicks sometime in the next week to ten days.
We’ll keep you posted.
I have several sightings to report most notably that the loons are back!!! We have a nesting pair on the north platform and, if successful, we should have a loon chick or two by Memorial Day week-end or close to it. Wildlife biologist, Damon McCormick, will be out next week to verify whether or not this is the same pair that have successfully raised two sets of two in the past two years. We banded the female two years ago (white band) so we knew it was her when she returned last year. We’ve never been able to catch the male but hopefully will have better luck this year with our banding efforts. Which brings us to the second platform.
For the past four years it’s been on the south end of the lake and attracted only the occasional turtle. Last fall, we moved this platform about a mile north and anchored it on the east side of the lake between the Stephanic and Wottowa properties and this Spring placed the platform there again in the hopes of attracting a second pair. I am happy to report that we have had a second pair swimming around and climbing up on the platform. I texted Damon about this second pair and he informed me that the female is an Intermediate Lake loon that was banded in 2010 and that last year she was ejected from her established territory on Intermediate Lake and became a ‘floater’. She has found her way to Six Mile Lake with a new mate who is quite a bit bigger than her. Damon reports that her mate has been attempting to woo her, in fact, you can hear a series of soft mews when he’s calling to her, but, so far, no luck. Damon says that she’s uncomfortable with her new surroundings, however, the big male appears to be completely at ease here on Six Mile and is as friendly as our first male loon ‘Blue’ who raised his offspring here in 2012. So, we’ll have to wait and see whether she stays or goes.
I must say it is hilarious to watch him get up on the platform and rearrange the straw in a futile effort to get her attention as she floats by the platform and just keeps on going! I know one thing for sure though…it has been an adventure having loons on our lake. Many, many inland lake residents never see a loon much less have the experience of seeing loon chicks or hearing the calls of the loons at night, speaking of which, we have had an audio show the past few nights with all the yodeling and wailing going on on our end of the lake. Did you know that only the male loon yodels and is used when defending a territory? Go to the website loon.org where you can listen to the individual calls and the next time you hear the loons you’ll know what they are communicating. What do you think? Are you glad that Six Mile Lake has loons and a loon program aiding in the efforts to re-establish these birds in Northern Michigan? I sure hope so! I know that without the help and interest of the Six Mile Lake Association membership our loon program would not be the success that it is.
On that note, it’s been a few years since we had a guest speaker whose subject is loons so mark your calendars for 9am Saturday, September 10th at the Pleasant Valley Free Methodist Church where we will have the opportunity to meet Jeff Lange from LoonCorps here in Northern Michigan. Jeff has been building and aiding others in placing artificial nesting islands (ANI’s) throughout the northern lakes area. He has a short film presentation and then will be telling of his loon experiences and taking questions so try to be there. I imagine it will be very exciting and informative.
Besides our loons, I have received reports of nesting sand hill cranes, an eagle’s nest on the south end of the lake, and we already have geese families around the lake. Soon our baby ducks and mergansers will be born. The northern orioles have been back for a few days and I saw my first hummingbird a couple days ago. I keep hoping to see bluebirds in our nesting boxes but no such luck, however, we do have swallows which are great mosquito hunters! Meanwhile please, be aware of the newbies all around us. While putting in the neighbor’s dock, Kelly stumbled upon six newborn baby minks. He covered them with leaves and sticks and checked on them a couple of times until Mom had moved them all to safer surroundings. One final note, stay way back from any nesting waterfowl including loons, geese, etc. If you’re in a boat go around or slow down for the babies crossing the lake, if you’re in a kayak or canoe, don’t float in on the loon platforms or chase waterfowl of any kind. Believe it or not, the number one complaint of loon harassment are kayakers.
Until next time!