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MOTHER AND BABY CHICK

Story ID:2142
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:OurEcho Community
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2007
Person:Richard L Provencher
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MOTHER AND BABY CHICK
(c) Richard L. Provencher


As puffed up marshmallows, cumulous clouds drift in happy abandon. Trees shiver from a gentle breeze and the lake is an invitation for a swim. Todayís weather is perfect for a family of Loons. Their home, in a wilderness neck of land, is on the smallest bay of Economy Lake, Nova Scotia.

Hush, as we spot the white lines on a mother-loonís neck. It contrasts with her black back feathers. And her camouflage of color does a fine job. She moves nervously in her nest of leaves. Moss and grass help keep their home from prying eyes. The wily bird knows a raccoon has been in the area and would like to eat any newly hatched eggs.

Right now two olive brown speckled eggs jiggle beneath her warm body. It has been a tiresome one-month wait for this moment. Thankfully father-loon is on guard nearby. He is swimming quietly back and forth watching for any crows or seagulls. They fly this way in regular patterns, also on the search for tasty loon eggs.

Suddenly, there is movement inside the eggs. As if in a contest to see their mother, both shells are being pecked furiously. Sharp beaks provide sharp jabs, and finally the first chick tumbles out.

Mother-loon watches carefully. Then begins a strange series of calling sounds. It is her special language of love for her babies. And she wishes to share the good news with father loon. Now the second chick somersaults into the sunlight.

Father-loon hears the commotion and climbs into the nest. His steps are clumsy as his powerful legs are set far back on his body. Mother-loonís happiness is almost like a cat purring. She carefully tucks both chicks under her wing for protection and warmth.

In the world of nature survival skills must be learned quickly. And the next day both chicks leave the nest. They have lessons to learn, and quickly. At first they are fearful, each selecting a parent, climbing onto their backs for a better look. Nice and safe here.

Mother and father loon claimed this wilderness area as a nesting place, for raising their family. Father and mother loons repeat their trek to the edge of land. And excited baby chicks follow their splashing. The young ones canít believe water is so much fun.

Over the next few days, they continue to practice their skills. After all, life for them is not just full of adventure. They must also prepare for danger. Food brought by mother-loon includes a menu of frogs and insects. And leeches. With practice both chicks are able to bob like corks and soon begin diving for their own fish. Life for the family is simple and fun-filled. Each day, after swimming and diving, the chicks climb onto their parentís backs for safety and rest.

Unfortunately, the youngest is very careless. He does not understand there are so many enemies. Mink, foxes, turtles and pike fish are not family friends. Neither is the raccoon, known to smack his lips constantly as he seeks unguarded chicks. Mother-loon often has to chase her youngsters towards the shelter of their nest.

One day the family had just returned from exploring the bay, when a splashing noise was heard not far from their hiding place. Both chicks became fearful as their parents threshed about frantically. Although instinct warned of danger, no one realized a huge pike followed them. Anxious parents gave warning sounds as the family zigzagged towards their nest.

A bull moose startled everyone by raising his head from behind a wall of reeds. He had been digging in the shallow shoreline water for tender shoots. And was curious as to why a young loon left the safety of his family, now streaming towards him.

Mother-loon scolded her other chick into 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 placing himself at risk.

In spite of this protective activity the daring chick continued to paddle furiously towards the moose, amazed at its size. Then in a moment of utter disbelief, one snap of its large mouth gave the pike a delicious lunch.

Mother loon saw what took place and shrieked sounds of terror. A mixture of throaty cries came in waves of sorrow. She knew something terrible happened, since she no longer saw her little chick. Echoes of her sadness bounced from one side of the bay to the other. Father-loon heard the anguish in her voice and began to shout his imitation of a wolf pack. It was meant to scare away any creature threatening his family. But, he sensed it was too late.

The moose hurried away, as haunting calls followed him across the water. It was all for nothing. Mother-loon was left with only one chick. In a few moments she led her baby to the safety of their nest. And father loon joined them shortly.

Because of this tragedy the family became even closer. Both parents now hastened to teach their last chick everything they could. They wished baby chick to live a long life as mother and father. And so the days pass by. Summer soon moved closer to autumn. Other loons arrived for a visit. And a chorus of greetings, traveled from each family.

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, the same as her parents. The weather changed with snowflakes coming more often. The smoothness of ice formed along the shoreline. And meant winter was moving this way. Time to fly south.

And it happened one day, as morning mist drifted lazily across the lake. Sunrise had not yet taken place. Even bullfrogs were mysteriously silent. The family of three loons skipped across the watery surface then circled low around the bay. Their powerful wings allowed them to climb easily into the sky. This was not a farewell to the wilderness area.

Their melodies rose and fell as a beautiful symphony; 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 brought her beside mother and father loon.

Looking back once more, she realized this bay was home. And one day her own family would be raised here.


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