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After the chicks are hatched, they are cared for by both parents. Newly born chicks are
capable of swimming as soon as their down is dry, shortly after hatching. However, both
parents take turns ferrying their chicks around on their backs. When the parents have had
enough ferry duty, they merely submerge into the water, leaving their chicks floating around.
The family unity is very close until mid-fall. By then the chicks are well developed and
have learned to dive. This is essential to their livelihood, as only by diving can they
catch their food.
Diet and Territory
The loon's diet consists of small to large fish -- some fish half the length of its body
are swallowed in just one gulp. Frogs and other crustacean are also part of its diet. The
loon can easily overtake the fastest minnows in pursuing a fish meal, its favorite food.
The loon's territory is large. The small loon family commands and dominates one-third square
mile of land and the adjacent two-thirds square mile of water all to itself.
One understands why the loon commands so much water space when watching it literally use the
water as a runway. It paddles the water's surface with its thick, webbed feet and its small
wings in a rapid wing beat to give it a liftoff.
The loon usually has to circle its home lake after liftoff just to clear the tree tops
surrounding the shore. But once in full flight it can easily reach speeds of 80 miles an hour.
The loon is very much a water bird, a master swimmer and diver, yet almost helpless on land
because its feet and powerful legs are set so far back under its body. The makes the loon
extremely front heavy, which causes it to fall forward on its chest when trying to walk
When winter begins to close and the loon's northern waters freeze over, the loon family
flies south to the open sea where they will be 20 miles or so from land. There they'll
float out the winter months on the ocean or lakes that are too big to freeze over.
The young loons often remain on the ocean with other young loons for two or three years
before seeking to head north in the spring to set up housekeeping for a family of their
own on inland waters.
The northern lakes will silently rest until spring, until once again the loon will scream