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Minnesota man rescues loon chick

"Just about everybody was absolutely convinced we had lost this chick, including me. I thought we had lost him," Larry Backlund said.

Over the weekend, a Minnesota man rescued a loon chick that had gotten stuck in a nest. 

"I was amazed. This is over 24 hours he's been stuck in there. I was amazed he was still alive," Larry Backlund said. 

16 years ago, Backlund's love of loons led to him putting out a nesting platform on his lake in central Minnesota. That led to a partnership with Minnesota Bound, setting up a Live Loon Cam that's now viewed by people across the world. 

"It took off like none of us ever dreamed of and for two years in a row it was named the number one web cam in the world. And I'm going... this is insane, this is off the end of my dock," Backlund said. 

Neighbor Larry Blake added, "Instead of watching TV at night, I watch this and it's dramatic."

Credit: Minnesota Bound Live Loon Cam
An image taken from the Minnesota Bound Live Loon Cam this weekend.

That rang true over the weekend when Backlund was watching the Live Loon Cam. The loons had two eggs; the first one hatched Friday morning. The chick and parents left the nest and later Friday, the dad came back with the chick on his back. When the dad jumped up, the chick fell off and was unable to get back to him. 

"We go into dark on Friday night and you can hear this chick just crying and it was heartbreaking to listen to," Backlund recalled. 

Saturday morning, Backlund went out in the paddle boat to check around the nest but still couldn't find the chick. The second chick hatched around noon. Then the second chick and the parents left the nest. That night, with the loons gone, Backlund went into the water at midnight and searched the nest. He found the first chick stuck in the nest. 

"Literally, it was a space of no more than probably an inch wide and he'd gotten back in there and then gotten stuck," Backlund said. Backlund had to cut away part of the nest to get him out. 

"I told him he was kind of like Aquaman going out there and saving it," neighbor Blake said. 

Sunday morning, Backlund took the chick to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota. 

Credit: Matt Passolt
The loon chick is recovering from an eye injury at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.

"He wouldn't have made it out in the wild. Something would've eaten it," said Jesse Menne, a certified veterinary technician at WRC. "This is a high maintenance species because they do require a lot of care." 

The loon is being treated for an eye injury and will likely stay at WRC for 12 weeks before going back to the wild. 

"This is the youngest loon chick I've ever worked with so my main focus right now will be, 'Is he eating? Is he gaining weight?'" Menne said.  

Backlund said while the parents and second chick have pretty much left the nest, he will leave the live camera up for at least another week. Backlund is almost reminding people out on the lake this summer to be aware of the loons and give them their space while admiring them. 

While Backlund typically does not name the loons that nest near his house, he said he is considering breaking his own rule. 

"I haven't decided for sure yet but I'm thinking about calling him Resurrection. Because we thought he was dead on Friday night and Sunday morning he came back to life," said Backlund, laughing. 

You can read Backlund's loon blog, here. 

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