2023 Lake Vermilion Loon Camera Live Stream – ARCHIVE

A Loon’s Magnificent Life on Lake Vermilion – August 7, 2023
by Noel Sederstrom, VLA Volunteer

Surrounded by spectacular beauty, “our” Vermilion Lake Association loon pair successfully brought a new life into the world in the summer of 2023. Here’s our highlight video featuring the challenges, perils and joy the loons found on Lake Vermilion as they chased away threats and began teaching their little chick everything it needs to know to survive.

We’d like to thank Access Broadband of Virginia for the internet power for our Live LoonCam project this year, and a special thank you to Liz Dahl and Cheryl Paulson for sharing their video clips of the little one after it made its appearance. Bill Michaelson led our marine team positioning and maintaining our live camera in the lake again this year. And Chris Sederstrom helped with our website and YouTube operations. All of us are grateful to the VLA Board for the financial support of our project.

Used with permission from the Free Music Archive:
LI by Segue Music, CC BY-NC International License 4.0
Black Tears by Mr Smith, CC BY International License 4.0
well-being by Roman, CC BY International License 4.0
Breathe by Mr Smith, CC BY International License 4.0
Circles Round the Sun by Mr Smith, CC BY International License 4.0
I Still Miss You by Mr Smith, CC BY International License 4.0

Other videos from the summer of 2023 are archived on this page, on our YouTube Channel, or on Facebook.


2023 Archive
Loon Chick’s Spectacular First Day – July 7, 2023

Lake Vermilion, Minn. (VLA) — The loons had hidden their nest deep in the brush of a small peninsula. It was hidden so well that in the hours after their chick hatched, Dad Loon couldn’t figure out where Mom and baby chick had gone. They apparently had slipped away silently and secretly to the water for swim lessons.

The chick’s father hooted softly, calling and looking for them a little past 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27. Hunting the nest area, he lost his footing and crashed into the water of Lake Vermilion. Dad Loon then circled the lily pads calling out for them, bellowing his loudest seconds later to signal his alarm and frustration.

But minutes later, all his anxiety was forgotten when the little loon family found each other and celebrated the chick’s hatching with a swim out in the bay. We don’t really know exactly when the chick hatched, or if there was ever a second egg lost to a predator.

As Tuesday afternoon unfolded, the chick could be heard learning how to make loon conversation with help from its mother. Dad Loon continued patrolling outside the nest area.

A few hours later, just before 5 p.m., nearby loon-watcher Liz Dahl shot priceless video of the chick and one of the parents. They were focused almost immediately on not only teaching the chick how to swim, but to eat from the bounty of the lake. Then–a close call.

An “intruder” loon neared, threatening to attack the chick in a strange jealous behavior well-documented by naturalists. The parent roared into action, chasing the intruder far out into the bay, but leaving the chick all alone in the water, unprotected. Dahl shot the whole thing, as well as the reunion of the chick and its parent minutes later.

That wasn’t the only dramatic threat to the little chick’s life that first day. After rain moved through, the loons sensed the presence of a bald eagle high in the sky and began crying frantically. Apparently hiding the chick deep in the brush back in the nest, the two loons made a ruckus until the eagle tired of their noise and left the area.

It was an exhausting and spectacular first day for the baby loon and its parents. It was also full of life lessons for the little one just setting out on its own fascinating life on the lake. It will be a life of spectacular beauty, but one of constant danger.


Happy Loons on the Lake – June 24, 2023

Lake Vermilion, Minn. (VLA) — Life is good at the lake, if you’re a loon on Lake Vermilion. Dodging threats, facing off with eagles and beavers with courage, coming and going as you please, popping up where others might least expect you.

“It sounds like they’re laughing!” observed GailH, one of our YouTube community loon-watchers. And she’s so right. Out in the bay, seemingly with not a care in the world, the loons enjoy the lake and each other and wait for their chicks to hatch. Then they share their happiness and exuberance for life with anyone who can hear them.


Fireflies Startle Loon on Her Nest – June 23, 2023

Lake Vermilion, Minn. (VLA) — It was calm and peaceful on Lake Vermilion the evening of Thursday, June 22, so it was alarming when about 10:35 p.m. the loon sitting on her hidden nest screamed into the night sky.

The VLA’s Live LoonCam showed a scene of tranquility, but it soon became obvious what had startled her–it was the first time this summer for the Dance of the Fireflies.

The night skies over Lake Vermilion are filled with the choruses of frogs and toads, the Green Frog, the Spring Peeper, the American Toad and the Grey Tree Frog. And their night sounds are so familiar to the loons they pay them no attention. It won’t take long before the loons ignore the fireflies as they zigzag through the trees and bushes.

You can watch the VLA’s Live LoonCam anytime 24/7 here at our website, and you can join the loon community and comment on what you see, on our YouTube Channel.


Loons Try to Scare Away Hungry Eagle – June 20, 2023

Lake Vermilion, Minn. (VLA) — There’s good reason to think “our” loons are trying to protect eggs in their hidden nest on Lake Vermilion. When a bald eagle flew in Monday, June 19, about 8 p.m. to feast on a fish carcass on the shoreline, the loons sprang to life and mounted a ferocious response trying to chase it away. A third loon even swam over from a nearby bay to try to help intimidate the eagle. When the eagle tired of it all some 25 minutes later, the loons called out in triumph!

You can watch the VLA’s Live LoonCam anytime 24/7 here at our website, and you can join the loon community and comment on what you see, on our YouTube Channel.


Great Blue Heron Drops in for Lunch – June 20, 2023

Lake Vermilion, Minn. (VLA) — A majestic Great Blue Heron dropped in for lunch Saturday to the little peninsula on Lake Vermilion that’s home to “our” loon family.

After surveying the menu, the big bird quietly walked over to the still water in the little bay and chose his lunch–fresh fish. Actually, a small live fish. After swallowing his entree whole and shaking off his feathers, the Great Blue Heron strolled past the hidden loons’ nest in the peninsula bushes. The loon perched on the nest didn’t make a sound, and the Great Blue Heron left it alone.

The VLA’s Live LoonCam team is grateful to Access Broadband of Virginia for the internet service that makes our project possible.


Loon Leads Us to Hidden Nest – June 19, 2023

Lake Vermilion, Minn. (VLA) — From Sunday afternoon June 11, for five days, we were in the dark about what was going on with our little loon family-in-the-making.

The VLA’s Live LoonCam resumed online streaming after Bill and our marine team installed a replacement Ethernet cable just before 6 p.m. on Friday, June 16. We had been blaming a beaver or otter for chewing through our Ethernet power-data cable, which goes underwater to our camera post. But it turns out a squirrel was the critter that damaged the line near our WiFi router.

Loon chicks might be on the way! “Our” loons are taking turns sitting on a nest hidden behind bushes on a small peninsula. Watch this video clip from just before 9p Friday and you’ll become an eyewitness. First scanning the weeds and water for predators, one loon then leads our LoonCam right to their hidden nest.

We’re grateful to Access Broadband of Virginia for the internet power helping us get these images out to the world.


Bald Eagle Raids Loons’ Nesting Area – May 29, 2023

Lake Vermilion, Minn. — A bald eagle swooped in the late evening of Memorial Day and terrified two loons we’ve been tracking with our Live LoonCam project.

After snooping around a small peninsula the loons have picked as a nesting site, the eagle sampled the water and got into a stare-down with the loons as they cried in protest. The eagle eventually flew off to the north without causing any apparent destruction.

We’d like to extend our thanks to Access Broadband of Virginia for the internet service which makes these video uploads possible for Vermilion Lake Association.


Beaver Chasing Loons from Nesting Site – May 28, 2023

Lake Vermilion, Minn. — A wildlife spotter is helping the Vermilion Lake Association’s LoonCam Team track the movements of a loon pair attempting to establish a nesting site. The loons had taken over a spot on a small land peninsula jutting out into Lake Vermilion.

But after repositioning the Live LoonCam to monitor the behavior of the loons, the VLA volunteers realize the pair has been locked in a running confrontation with a large beaver which is claiming the same turf.

Loons Explore Floating Platform as Nest Site – May 24, 2023
by Noel Sederstrom, VLA Volunteer

With the wind blowing from the east and creating a choppy Lake Vermilion, “our” loon pair was out Tuesday evening of May 23 checking on a possible nesting site. The gusty conditions had sent boaters to shore and they were all alone on the water.

We were able to watch them about 7:21 p.m. as presumably Mom Loon approached and climbed up atop a floating nesting platform anchored just for the two of them to use. She made herself comfortable and got a sense of how it felt bobbing up and down in the water.

Then, about a minute and a half later, with an impatient wave of his head, her partner signalled it was time to go. Down below the surface he went, and for 30 seconds she took one long last look from her perch.

With a great effort, she then got up and lurched into the chilly Lake Vermilion water to join her mate.

It’s not clear if the loons will use the platform, or will build a nest on-shore nearby as they did last year.

A team of volunteers from Vermilion Lake Association has been working to create a way to watch the loons’ activities, hoping the pair will bring a couple of chicks into the world in the coming weeks. With a new Axis camera and adding a parabolic dish for the waterproof mic, a marine team led by Bill Michaelson positioned a weighted post and pointed it at the most likely places the loons might choose to build a nest.

We’re grateful that Access Broadband of Virginia is partnering with us again this year to help provide us with an internet path out for the camera’s video and audio. Anyone who’d like to join our caring loon-watching community to comment on what they see is welcome to check out our VLA YouTube Channel. We’ll also keep you posted on the VLA’s website and Facebook page.
2022 Archive

Loon Chicks Hatch, Learn How to Swim – June 23, 2022

It’s amazing–only two hours after hatching, Lake Vermilion’s newest loon chicks were being taught how to swim and eat a healthy “lake lunch.”  The older one took to the water quickly, but the younger one wasn’t quite so brave!  See the drama-filled first few hours of the loon family’s new life together in this special video from the Vermilion Lake Association.


Loons Scare Away Animal Threatening Nest – June 20, 2022

An animal lurking in the bushes near our loon nest was scared off about 8:50 a.m. Monday.  The loons roared to action, screaming and standing on the water flapping wings, chasing the creature away.  It came back minutes later and the frantic commotion unfolded all over again.  Watch the video.  Look in the bushes on the left side of the screen.  Was it a skunk?  Raccoon?  Bear?  Bobcat?


Out of the Water and Back to Work – June 19, 2022

It was a year ago–on Father’s Day 2021–that our loons left the nest and we were chagrined that we missed the hatching of the two eggs. Then we were able to get a few shots of the chicks in the days that followed. This year we hope we’re better prepared for the big moment. Our Axis M1137 camera is on a post in the lake and better positioned this year. Hoping to see some magic in the days ahead. Happy Father’s Day from the loon watchers of Lake Vermilion!


Loon Nest Mystery – How Many Eggs? – June 16, 2022

Two days after the Lake Vermilion loons were terrorized by a bald eagle rampaging through their nest, they were again carefully sitting on their egg or eggs on the nest built on a small peninsula.  Look carefully.  You might see the Dad Loon plop down on one egg, then realize that a second egg was off to the left behind him.  See how he handles it.


Shift Change for Mom & Dad Loon – June 15, 2022

Mom and Dad Loon have been taking turns sitting on the eggs in the nest they built on a small peninsula of Lake Vermilion.  It’s in an area with a half dozen homes and cabins and lots of boat traffic.  But to them, it’s “home.”  It’s fun to watch them interact as they do their nest shift change.  This video clip is from a few minutes past 7 a.m. on June 15.


Eagle Attacks Loon Nest – June 13, 2022

An eagle attacked the Vermilion Lake Association’s loon nest on 6/13/22–driving off the loons and rampaging through their nest.  The good news is that the loon is back on their nest… so perhaps the eagle was scared off by a neighbor mowing his lawn.

Highlights of Loon Nest Cam from 2021 below:

Vigilant, Secretive, on High Alert for Danger—our Mom and Dad Loon successfully hatch two chicks

Lake Vermilion, Minnesota – The humans watching for any loon nest-building activity in their small bay in early May worried that something terrible had happened to the pair of loons that had come back year after year.  They just didn’t show up.

But then, the female loon was there one day, building a nest in the grassy area near the point.  Loons can’t walk easily on land because of how far back their legs are on their bodies, so they always stay within feet of the water’s edge to be able to escape danger.  Soon the adult female was there every day, sitting on her carefully-built nest.  She would constantly sweep the sky, trees and water, on high alert for trouble from anywhere.

And she would take turns on the nest with her mate, who we eventually spotted on the scene. It’s really difficult to tell the female and male apart, but we figured out there were indeed two of them there, after they started appearing together.  

During the afternoon of June 9, when they had both gone to the bay for a swim and probably to hunt for food, we were able to spot two eggs in the nest on our live loon cam.

There are frequent visitors to the loons’ quiet neighborhood.  A family of ducks lives nearby.  More than one Great Blue Heron would swoop in each day to hunt for food in the small bay near the nest, moving stealthily along the shoreline.

Because of the bandwidth limitations and the distance of our Axis M-1137E camera to the nest, the manual focus was tricky and the depth of field really tight.  But we got a few good looks at the pair working hard on their prime mission—to bring two new chicks into the world.  A number of us were monitoring the live camera from afar via the Internet, as we were live streaming the shot to the VLA’s YouTube Channel.  Because of limited WiFi bandwidth for uploading the signal, we could only send out a small portion of the camera’s sophisticated image quality.  If more bandwidth becomes available, it would really help us deliver a better sharper image.    

Over the Father’s Day weekend, just as rain and storms hit Lake Vermilion, the loons both disappeared from our camera vantage point.  A couple of days later, we were able to spot them with two little loon chicks.

Since they are no longer spending any time at the nest, we’ve pulled the camera out of the bay for the season.  But before that happened, during the last week of June, we recorded many hours of video so that we could create a video we’re calling “The Little Loons Learn to Survive” –it’s a closer look at their daily routine nearby and the threats they face.  About eleven weeks from hatching, the parents will leave the little ones to try to make it on their own.
— Noel and Chris Sederstrom, VLA Volunteers


In March, 2021, the Vermilion Lake Association launched a team to design and build a live camera system that could stream a live view of a loon’s nest during the summer months to our website and to YouTube, also creating content for our Facebook friends.  Thanks to our members whose annual dues paid for the equipment, and to Access Broadband of Virginia, MN, for the WiFi service that makes this possible.  It’s our intent to keep the location of the live LoonCam unidentified to protect the privacy of the loon family and their human neighbors.

For more information on our loon population and loon stewardship, please visit https://www.vermilionlakeassociation.org/other-programs/loon-information/.