Common Loon Common Loon
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Comparing Nesting Systems of Loons and Ducks

Advantages of Raising Nestlings

Disadvantages of Raising Nestlings

Advantages of Bringing Chicks Along

Disadvantages of Bringing Chicks Along

Nestlings hatch out when less developed, making incubation shorter.

If a predator discovers the nest, all the nestlings will be lost.

If a predator discovers them, most of the chicks can probably get away.

Eggs must be more developed when hatched, so incubation lasts longer.

Nestlings can stay in one safe spot.

Have to carry food to the nestlings.

Chicks can feed themselves quicker.

Family is noticeable to predators.

Easy to find all the nestlings

Parasites can hide out in the nest.

No place for parasites to hide out.

Hard to find all the chicks.

Nestlings don't have to memorize who their parents are right away because their parents are the only ones who feed them.

Unless parents carry the nestlings' poop away, the nest is noticeable.

By moving around, there isn't a spot where all the chicks' poop collects.

Chicks must immediately memorize their parent(s) or they could follow the wrong one.

Nestlings can memorize the kind of space appropriate for nest building.

Nestlings can't observe and learn how the parents act when the parents are away.

Chicks can watch and learn from their parents all the time.

Chicks aren't in the nest long enough to memorize appropriate nest sites.

Nestlings can keep each other warm snuggled together

Nestlings are helpless when faced with danger.

Chicks can scurry away from danger.

Chicks have to keep themselves warm a lot of the time.

Nestlings don't get lost.

Nestlings must be left alone for parents to find food.

Chicks can always be with their parent.

Chicks can get lost.

If there isn't a lot of food nearby, parents can fly to other places to get food, and bring it back.

Nest must be built big enough to hold the nestlings after they've been growing for a while.

Nest just needs to be big enough to hold the eggs.

If there isn't a lot of food nearby, parents have to travel distances with the chicks.

Differences between Loons and Ducks Explaining Why More Baby Loons Survive



  1. Both parents incubate.
  2. Both parents care for the babies.
  3. Loons feed their tiny chicks.
  4. Nest is right next to lake, so babies don't have to walk far to get to water.
  5. Can stay warm by riding on the parent's back
  6. Loons spend most of their time in deep water with fewer predators
  7. Baby loons can sleep on a parent's back for safety.
  1. Only mother incubates.
  2. Only mother cares for the babies.
  3. Ducks lead their babies to food, but the babies must feed themselves.
  4. Often nest far from water, and babies must walk a long distance.
  5. Babies must keep themselves warm.
  6. Ducks spend their time in shallow water with more predators.
  7. Baby ducks sleep on shore where many predators hunt.


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