While filming loons one season, I noticed that birds and animals very unlike us in so many ways, share what I see as common behaviors. The instinct to feed offspring, no matter how capable of feeding themselves, remains strong, long after it’s necessary. The three-month-old loon chick in the accompanying video, though having learned to dive and catch fish on its own weeks earlier, still persists, as though completely helpless, to beg its parent for food (forty-seven minnows in this feeding session alone). And Dad readily complies. Not that I blame any loon parent subjected to the throat-slashing this chick administers, least of all when the begging degenerates to the no-holds-barred eye-poking!
Upon observing this on a Northern Michigan lake, the past memory of my sister and nephew came to mind, where he would lie on the floor watching TV, calling for his mom to go to the kitchen and pour him some juice. Which she invariably did, even though he was entirely capable of doing so himself. And while the doting loon parent’s instincts would eventually switch off, leaving the chick to fend for himself soon after achieving flight, the human instinct to feed their young is a lifelong one. If you want proof, visit your mother, and see how long it takes before the instinct kicks in to feed you.