The Dance of the Loon

Ethel Thayer (Katherine Hepburn) cried to herĀ  husband Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) in “On Golden Pond,” “Come here, Norman. Hurry up. The loons! The loons! They’re welcoming us back.” While day three of our NH vacation is starting out gray and damp, the dance of the loon on Danforth Bay is unmatched in its wonder.

This morning, there was no mist, just a light breeze from the east and the chirping of countless birds to wake the day. In the flat water, I saw rings fanning out as though a fish had jumped. Looking closer, I saw the unlikely silhouettes of two loon dancing in mirror opposite on the water. They seemed to peck at each other; dip their long beaks into the water to snap up some bugs, then they’d disappear in unison below the surface to swim maybe 15 yards underwater. Then they’d pop up again on the surface, repeating the dance.

It is quite unusual to see two loon together. They are solitary, aquatic birds – except when they are mating. According to The Loon Preservation Committee, what I apparently saw this morning was the male and female doing short dives and swims together in their mating ritual. The male eventually leads the female to a suitable spot on land, but near the water, to mate and build their nest. Typically, nesting takes place in May or June, but it’s possible this male loon had a failed mating attempt with another female and has found another mate to try to start their family.

As far as I can tell, no one on Danforth Bay saw this display of nature this morning. Navigate to this link to hear the call of the loon – it is like no other. Voice of the loon http://www.loon.org/voice-loon.php

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