Jeff Green | Jan 13, 2005
Feature Article January 13
Feature article January 20, 2005LAND O' LAKES NewsWeb Home
Contact UsThe Cycle of Nature
The spring had been promising for the pair of loons that came early in April to the small lake in the northern forest. The pair bond between them was strong even though they were young and had never before nested. The nest they built was fragile and close to the waters edge, among the cattails of the marsh. She settled on the nest and in the course of a few days there were two eggs that needed incubating. The male was never far away, and would relieve her of the incubating duties so that she might go and feed.
Then the weather changed, and suddenly there were clouds - dark, threatening clouds, and the rains came. It seemed as if the sky had opened as the water poured down. The first cloudburst changed to a steady rain that beat upon the birds, the one in the water and the one on the nest. Night came, and then morning, and the rain continued and as it did the level of the water in the lake rose, coming closer and closer to the nest and the precious eggs. Finally, it engulfed the nest, and the parents could no longer keep the eggs warm and protected.
Later after the rains had ceased, the pair chose a new spot on which to build a nest. This time it was a sturdier nest and built on a higher hummock of marsh grass. And soon there were again two eggs to care for. It was now well into summer, and then, there was movement beneath the incubating parent, and the first of two chicks emerged, followed in a couple of days by a second tiny loon. The elder and stronger chick began pecking to drive the younger chick away from its parents and the opportunity to feed, and soon it did not have the strength to resist. Then there was only one chick for to be fed by the loving parents,
As its feathers began to appear, it was not long before it had mastered the art of diving and finding water insects or tiny fish for itself. It was growing quickly, and by instinct was strengthening its wings even though still unable to fly. Summer had now turned to early autumn, and the parents were restless, often taking to the air, leaving the young loon alone for short periods. Then one day, they did not return, and the young loon now had to fend for itself, as it continued to mature.
Winter came early, and soon in the northern forest there were the soft downy flakes of early snow, and still the young loon had not managed to fly. Ice began to appear around the edge of the lake, and one night, a sudden surge of Arctic air formed a shimmer of ice over the entire lake. The frightened loon tried to keep an area of open water around itself, and tried over and over to gather the strength of fly, but one morning, could not even break free of the thickening ice. It was doomed.
That same summer a young female fox had come to live in the meadows near the lake, and now as winter engulfed the forest she was having difficulty finding food. It was almost as if nature had closed the larder, and she was hungry. Searching in the meadows had yielded only a single vole, and the snow was making hunting more difficult. Now she was searching along the edge of the frozen lake, looking for frogs that may not have sought refuge in the warm mud at its bottom.
Scanning the ice she saw a dark object protruding above the snow. Cautiously she investigated, and as she neared she could smell meat. The dead loon became a meal that filled her stomach and strengthened her - she would survive.
This then is natures cycle - life, death, and from death, life.
Observations: Shirley Peruniak, Sharbot Lake, has had a female Northern Cardinal coming to her feeder since December 12. Audrey Cooper, Cloyne, saw a