The white lines on mother-loon's neck contrasted with black back feathers. She moved around nervously in her nest. The wily bird knew a raccoon had been in the area and interested in eating her newly hatched eggs.
Both were olive brown and jiggled beneath her warm body. It had been this way for about a month. Father-loon was nearby on guard and swam quietly back and forth watching for any crows or seagulls. They frequently flew this way searching for tasty speckled loon eggs.
The family nest was made of leaves, moss and grass. And it was well hidden on the end of a finger of land poking into the remote lake.
Suddenly, two baby chicks began pecking at their shells. Sharp beaks made strong jabs until finally the first chick tumbled out. Mother-loon watched carefully, then made strange calling sounds, a special language of love for her babies. One chick did a somersault as she tumbled into the sunlight.
Father-loon heard the commotion and climbed into the nest. His steps were clumsy because powerful legs were set far back on his body. Tucking her chicks under her wings for protection and warmth, mother-loon continued calling out happy sounds. The next day both chicks were ready to leave the nest.
Father and mother loons dragged themselves to the edge of land, and tumbled into the lake, followed by their excited chicks. It was hard to imagine water could be this much fun. At first the chicks were fearful. Each quickly selected a parent and climbed onto their back for a better look. Besides, it was nice and safe there.
Mother and father loon had claimed this wilderness area as a nesting place for their family. Over the next few days, the chicks learned how to survive. After all, the world of Nature was not only full of adventure, but also danger. Food brought by mother-loon included a menu of frogs and insects. And leeches.
With practice both chicks were able to bob like corks and soon began to dive for their own fish. Life became simple and fun-filled. After each day the chicks often climbed onto their parent's backs for a rest, after swimming and diving. It was unfortunate the youngest baby chick was very careless. He did not understand they had so many enemies.
Mink, foxes, turtles and pike fish were not friends of the family. Neither was the raccoon that smacked his lips constantly as he searched for unguarded nests.
Mother-loon often had to chase her carefree chicks back towards the safety of her family. And then lead them to the shelter of their nest.
One day a splashing noise was heard not far from their hiding place. The family of loons was just returning from a little trip, exploring the bay in which they lived. Both chicks became fearful as they watched their parents moving about frantically. They did not realize a huge pike was below the water, following them.
Anxious calls from their parents were warning sounds and the family zigzagged back towards their nest. Suddenly, a bull moose raised his head from behind a wall of reeds. He had been digging around looking for tender shoots, and was startled to see a young loon streaming towards him. The foolish young chick had left the safety of his family, wanting to find out more about this new visitor.
Mother-loon immediately shooed her other chick under the safety of her wings. And father-loon skipped across the water, hoping to distract the intruder. His duty was to protect his family, even if it meant putting himself in danger.
The daring little chick continued to paddle furiously towards the moose, amazed at its size. He was simply curious. Then from beneath the surface of the lake a dark shape appeared. With one snap of its large open mouth the pike had a delicious lunch.
Mother loon shrieked sounds of terror. A mixture of cries from her throat came in waves of sorrow. She knew something terrible had happened. Echoes of her sadness bounced from one side of the bay to the other. Father-loon heard and shouted his imitation of a wolf pack. It was a series of terrible sounds meant to scare away any creature threatening his family.
The moose hurried away, as haunting calls sounded across the bay. But, it was all for nothing. Mother-loon was now left with only one chick. In a few moments she led her one remaining chick to the safety of her nest. And father loon joined them shortly. Because of this tragedy the family became very close. Both parents taught their last chick everything they could. They wanted baby chick to live a long life like mother and father loon.
Summer soon moved closer to autumn.
When other loons arrived for a visit to the lake, a chorus of greetings traveled from one family to another. By this time, baby chick had grown older and wiser. She was now three months old and flying with more confidence. In another four years, she would have red eyes, with black and white colors like her parents.
The weather began to change as snowflakes appeared in regular patterns. Ice began to form along the shoreline, warning that winter was on the way. Mother-loon decided it was time to fly south.
It happened one day as early morning mist drifted lazily across the lake. Sunrise had not yet taken place and even bullfrogs were silent. The family skipped across the watery surface, circling once around the bay. It was not their last farewell to this wilderness. Powerful wings helped these three to climb easily into the sky.
Their melody of calls rose and fell as a beautiful symphony. It was a parting gift to the land below. Instinct reminded baby chick she would be returning next spring. Now she stretched her young wings and soared high above.
A burst of flapping wings caught her up to mother and father.
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Richard & Esther Provencher 2007
All messages for Richard or Esther can be sent directly to: firstname.lastname@example.org. They enjoy reading comments on their work. Readers are welcome to visit their website at: www.wsprog.com/rp/. Free downloads also available. They live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Many blessings on your loved ones.